Munster set for new shirt sponsor deal

Munster are set to name a new main shirt sponsor, the province said yesterday, on a day the Thomond Park Stadium Company Ltd reported its operating profits had almost halved last year to €354,000.

The two-time Heineken Cup winners have been seeking a new sponsor to replace Toyota Ireland, whose brand had adorned the famous red jerseys for nine seasons but have decided to end an association that has been worth more than €13 million to the province at the end of the current campaign.

Munster chief executive Garrett Fitzgerald said yesterday that a deal with a new sponsor was close to being finalised.

“We have made progress and it has come nearly to a conclusion so I would hope there will be some news on that in a short space of time. There are just a few things but we have made progress recently,” Fitzgerald said.

The Munster chief executive also confirmed the province would not be facing a touring Test side this November, further bad news for Thomond Park operators TPSCL, who hosted an Ireland XV v Fiji game at the Limerick stadium last autumn, and in previous years have welcomed New Zealand and Australia to the venue.

In addition to the 42% drop in operating profits from €612,000, revenues at TPSCL decreased by 19%, €500,000, from €2.65 million to €2.15m in the 12 months to the end of June 2012.

Stadium Director John Cantwell yesterday attributed the drop in operating profits to reduced number of Munster games at the stadium last year, Munster having failed to secure as home semi-final and subsequent final in the RaboDirect Pro12 competition.

He said revenues were also hit by no concerts at the stadium last year as opposed to two in 2011.

After loan interest payments of €332,000 and non-cash depreciation charge of €1.38m are taken into account, the firm’s post-tax loss increased by 36% from €992,000 in 2011 to €1.35m in 2012, although Cantwell said the post-tax loss was in line with budget.

“We are satisfied with the financial performance of the company for the year ending June 30, 2012 and despite the challenging economic environment we achieved a cash-flow break-even,” the stadium manager said.

Bruce Springsteen is performing at the stadium this July and Cantwell added: “We are still in negotiations to host a potential concert in August and possibly a high-profile soccer match in July.”

Explaining the absence of concerts last year, he said: “Due to the economic climate no major concerts were held outside Dublin during this period as concert promoters concentrated all activity in Dublin due to population density.”

The stadium is an economic driver for Limerick city and Cantwell said: “Based on independent research, the direct economic benefits to the local economy from events and matches staged at Thomond Park for the year up to end of June 2012 is estimated at over €60m.”

Cantwell highlighted “the effective cost control management of the company during difficult commercial conditions” in the past year and in relation to the current year and beyond, said: “We would expect revenue to be slightly down in 2013 due to the fact there were only 10 Munster matches in the stadium in 2012/13 as the Heineken Cup quarter-final was away from home.

“We need to maintain attendance levels for Munster matches and attract other events to the stadium such as other sporting events, concerts, conference and events, and additional matches.

“The business model is dependent on attracting non-rugby events and the economic benefits that are delivered to Limerick and the region from these events is significant and essential.

“Our main challenge is to convince all stakeholders in Limerick to play their part and help to attract events to Thomond Park for the benefit of all concerned.”

The accounts disclose that the company received a capital contribution in the amount of €8.9m from the Munster branch of the IRFU in the form of a forgiveness of a long-term liability.

Munster, meanwhile, have yet to nail down opposition for their opening pre-season fixture of the summer, scheduled for Thomond Park. Australian Super XV outfit the Melbourne Rebels had been pencilled in, only to cancel their proposed tour. Munster’s only confirmed pre-season home fixture to date is against London Irish at Musgrave Park on August 30.


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