The strength of the All-Ireland senior hurling championship has been underlined in the GAA’s 2012 annual accounts.
Last September’s replay between Kilkenny and Galway ensured total championship gate receipts for last year across both games were up on last year’s €24.2 million to €26.7m, the game bringing in €2.8m.
Irrespective of the replay, the 13 All-Ireland SHC games accrued just over €8m compared to the €10.9m gained from the 31 All-Ireland series matches in football, meaning the average hurling championship game returned €615,000 as opposed to a football return of €353,000.
With attendance and gate receipt figures holding up well in the face of competition from Euro 2012 and the Olympics last year, GAA finance director Tom Ryan reported the association as reasonably pleased with figures.
Taking into account the other sports events as well as economic factors, he said the organisation had bracedthemselves for a reduction in Central Council gate receipts (non-provincial matches) of up to 10%, excluding the All-Ireland finals.
He said: “Two years ago, we reduced the prices for most of those games so that would have been a factor in tempering our expectations for the earlier stages of the championship.
“The figures we are presenting are a positive but there are not too many positives out there. There are not too many enterprises that are seeing consistent, stable performances year-on-year, or even modest growth. There is more and more pressure on supporters’ pockets. A lot of the cost isn’t GAA costs but the cost of travel, food and so on. They are the things that can reduce the number of people going to games.”
GAA director general Páraic Duffy also confirmed the price freeze on All-Ireland series tickets will continue into this summer.
Insisting the association will not be complacent, Ryan revealed an operating profit of €8.99m, an increase of over €1.2m on 2011.
Also, Croke Park surpassed their targets, achieving an operating profit before interest of €8m, up from €4.55m in 2011, although the 2011 figure was over a 10-month period as the GAA recalibrated their accounts to finish at the end of October.
While confirming the Kildare County Board’s loans will be reflected in the GAA’s 2013 accounts, Ryan said he is more exercised by the financial difficulties being faced at club and county level.
“The things that would concern us a little bit are the financial difficulties facing counties and clubs.
“There have been some improvements on that front over the course of this year. Twelve or 13 counties returned deficits in 2011 — that was reduced to six or seven counties in 2012, which is a positive. Revenues at local level are being severely curtailed. Oddly enough, it’s not particularly on the gate side of things but more on the commercial side where people are finding it difficult to augment their gate receipts with sponsor income.
“When I talk about the €11m that is distributed out of here [to various GAA units] it is terribly important that we commit to that level of funding every year. It gives the clubs and the counties some degree of assurance about a base-line that they can rely on.
“The counties need to get better at handling their costs. I think we’ve seen a huge improvement over the course of 2012 from 2011 and I hope that continues in 2013 and, if that happens, we will be in a better place.”
Ryan confirmed Central Council are not legally exposed to the indebtedness of clubs and counties but are morally and ethically obliged to facilitate them if they run into difficulties.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved