GAA distributes record €14.8 million to counties and clubs
By John Harrington
The GAA’s Annual Revenue for 2017 was €65.6 million, an increase of €5 million on 2016’s financial results.
As ever, this income was pumped back into the Association at all levels – payments to units, games development, player welfare, administration, grants, and match costs.
Just under €15 million of the total was distributed by the GAA’s Central Council in 2017 to counties and clubs to underwrite their operating costs and to defray the cost of their participation in the various competitions.
Over €10 million was spent on games development and coaching, over €9 million on capital investment and grants, over €6 million on on player welfare, over €12 million on match and competition costs, and over €10 million on administration.
“In terms of an overview of the year, the first thing to say is that it was a good year, a positive year, an encouraging year. It's always very heartening to be able to say that,” said the GAA’s Director of Finance, Tom Ryan, today when publishing the Association’s 2017 Financial Statements.
Gate receipts provided over half of the GAA’s income in 2017 (€34.4 Million), and were up by €4 million on 2016’s gate receipts.
This was thanks to the average attendance per championship match (in the All-Ireland series) growing to 22,000, helped significantly by the All-Ireland series attendance figures growing by 24 per cent (180,000).
Mayo’s replays at the All-Ireland semi-final and quarter-final stages as well as the big crowds attracted by hurling counties like Wexford, Cork, and Waterford would have been big contributory factors to this increase.
The knock-out stages of the All-Ireland championships remain as vital as ever as a revenue generator for the Association because they ultimately finance the majority of matches and competitions which aren’t profit making.
For example, no Allianz Football League or Hurling League match turned a profit in 2017, nor did any Ring, Rackard, or Meagher Cup match.
“In terms of how we earned our €35 million in gate receipts and what that actually meant in terms of a return for the association as a whole, it's always interesting to look at where we're generating a return,” said the GAA’s Director of Finance, Tom Ryan, today.
“We had 350-odd matches over the course of this year and the lion's share of the €35 million revenue is earned from eight to ten significant matches.
“In terms of the net income out of the 350-odd games that are played, there are only just over 40 that generates any kind of a return.
“So that in turn creates its own pressure. It means you've got to get everything right for those particular games at the tail-end of the season because they are the games that determined how you fare financially.
“The other 300-plus games are equally important but they’re not there to generate any money and are not judged by the amount of money they generate.
“That means you've got to make as much as you can from the ones that do generate a return to safe-guard the future of those other competitions.”
Another major source of revenue for the GAA in 2017 was Páirc an Chrócaigh CTR, which is responsible for the management and operation of Croke Park Stadium. €7.5 million of Páirc an Chrócaigh CTR’s operating profit of €10.9 million went directly to the GAA’s Central Council.
Even though the GAA's Director of Finance, Tom Ryan, is happy that the Association is in 'a sound financial state', he warned the the amount of money being spent on inter-county teams, and the increasing cost of insurance claims are two areas that 'demand corrective action'.
A total of €4.4 million was spent by county boards on inter-county team expenses in 2017, a sharp increase on the €2.9 million that was spent in 2016.
"Foremost among our financial risks is the cost that counties continue to incur in preparing teams," wrote Ryan in his Financial Report.
"We should seek to measure ourselves collectively next year on how those costs are managed and controlled. We should also strive to increase self-sufficiency. The long-term financial health of our counties depends on it.
"The ever-increasing cost of insurance claims and premiums also demand attention and corrective action. Expect to hear a lot more on this theme in 2018.
"On the club front, fielding teams and making ends meet is not easy. I expect that for many 2018 will be no different. For as long as that continues to be the case, no matter how healthy affairs at Central Council might appear, there will be no room for financial complacency.
"Nevertheless our members can be assured the Association faces the coming year in a sound financial state. Central Council financial results continue to be encouraging, and the trend among our counties is similar.
"We know what needs to be done if the Association is to deliver the resources it needs in order to continue to develop and prosper.
"Our financial well-being is due predominantly to the dedication of our thousands of club and county treasurers nationwide. Their role is a difficult but valued one."