Galway GAA treasurer Mike Burke has said the county is “not getting a fair share” of gate receipts from Leinster Council.
The provincial round-robin format guarantees Galway two home games in the Leinster SHC each summer but board officials are frustrated at the county receiving just 15% of the gate from Leinster championship games staged in Pearse Stadium.
Treasurer Mike Burke told Monday’s convention he will be raising with Croke Park and Leinster Council the unacceptable “share of cake” the latter are serving to the Galway county board.
On top of gate receipts, Galway have received €20k-30k in coaching grants from Leinster Council in recent years, according to re-elected Galway chairman Pat Kearney. This figure, however, pales in comparison to the coaching and games development subsidy of €340k paid to Galway, by Connacht Council, across 2018 and 2019.
“We give respect to Leinster. In return, we must get respect,” said Burke.
“We play four matches each year in Leinster, two at home and two away. We bring crowds wherever we go. But, at present, we are not getting our fair share of the cake. We need to address this with Croke Park and Leinster Council. All we are asking for is a fair share of the gate receipts for our participation.”
Kearney struck a more diplomatic tone, cautioning that Galway need to be “realistic” about their aspirations from Leinster Council.
We got a payment of €20k- €30k [from Leinster] the last couple of years as coaching grants. We will be getting that again next year and we will be looking for more.
Kearney described the relationship between the county board executive and sponsors Supermacs as “very, very good”. Galway’s existing contract with the fast-food chain runs up to 2024 and has not been affected by the latter’s statement, released in September, demanding to know how the €1.6m Supermacs pumped into Galway GAA since 2015 had been spent.
“I want to thank our main sponsors Pat and Una McDonagh of Supermacs for their continued support, and I share their call and desire for complete financial transparency and accountability in how we manage ourfinances,” remarked Burke, a sentiment echoed by Kearney.
Galway’s 2019 spend on their senior footballers totalled €593k, with an outlay of €568k on the senior hurlers. The latter figure, when compared to the €405k pumped into All-Ireland semi-finalists Wexford this past year, puts paid to speculation that one of Galway’s flagship sides was under-resourced in 2019.
“Everybody is entitled to their own opinion, but everyone isn’t entitled to their own facts,” said Kearney.
The chairman added: “We see from other counties that there are a lot of difficulties out there. But we have made a lot of moves and there has been a lot done in the past 18 months to two years. The ship has turned [for Galway GAA].”
Despite the board’s accounts showing an overall deficit of €261k for 2019 and the collapse of the county’s fundraising income to the tune of €715k, the show of support from the floor towards the top table at Monday’s convention was far removed from the anger and disgust of 12 months ago when the full scale of financial mismanagement within Galway GAA was laid bare.
The establishment of a six-person independent audit committee, the ongoing work and oversight provided by David Connellan from the Croke Park finance department, and the appointment of Mark Gottsche as the county’s first ever finance and operations manager means there are now seven pairs of eyes looking through every red cent Galway take in and expend.
Burke told delegates that Galway’s gate receipts income, which totalled €1.24m this year, is unmatched by any other county, while Kearney said their financial systems were the “envy” of others. Officer expenses, meanwhile, are down to €11k, a quarter of what they were two years ago.
Central to Galway’s improved gate receipts income, which has doubled since 2016, is the introduction of the bosca system, whereby tickets for club games are purchased from a van outside the ground on match-day, therefore avoiding cash being handed at the turnstile.
“It is all down to control and management. I hope to be back here this time next year with larger gate receipts,” Burke enthused.
Pádraig Pearses delegate Paul Bellew described as “unprecedented” the 20% year-on-year increase in gate receipts.
“If we keep that up, it could be worth more than €600k over the next few years. We are bucking the trend nationally when you considerthe figures coming out ofWexford, Dublin, and Cork,” continued Bellew.
“There was a piece in the Irish Examiner in October praising the foresight and vision of Cork GAA in setting up an oversight and risk committee. Galway GAA has an external audit committee in place since before that, with significant representation on it. Since this time last year, there are six additional people looking at and monitoring Galway’s financial affairs.
"That is something that needs to be highlighted very, very strongly because there are too little facts and too many myths out there.
“To see this year lost on the negativity that was out there, when there was so much reform happening, was really, really disappointing. People that are putting down Galway to grind axes need to stop. We mightn’t be up the hill just yet, but we will certainly get there. Galway is not in the midst of a financial and governance crisis. Galway is open for business. That needs to be made very clear.”