Croke Park general view
Croke Park general view

GAA report deficit of €34.1M in 2020 financial results


By John Harrington

The GAA has reported a deficit at national level of €34.1M after 2020 revenue was badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

This figure comprises a consolidated deficit at central level (Central Council and Croke Park) of €27.1M with an additional €7M deficits at county and provincial level. The figure does not include any losses potentially incurred by clubs.

Drastically reduced gate receipts and commercial income were largely responsible for this deficit as the GAA’s total revenue fell by almost 60 per cent, down to €31.4M from €73.9M.

In 2019 the GAA earned €36M from gate receipts, whereas in 2020 income from gate receipts was just €3.6M

In 2019 the GAA earned €20M in commercial income which was reduced to €8.7M in 2020.

Croke Park Stadium also sustained significant losses in 2020, a deficit of €10.2M, as a result of limited matchday stadium rental income, a full year’s deferral of premium and suite seat income, no championship match day catering or hospitality revenues, reduced conference centre activity, and no concerts.

The GAA’s primary income source in the 2020 accounts was direct government support of €18.5m, received through Sport Ireland which was an increase of €12.4M on 2019.

CLG was awarded €14m in direct government support to assist the staging of Championship 2020 and a further €9m from the €85m “Rescue Fund for Sport”. In total, €13m of this €23m Covid support funding has been recorded in the 2020 accounts, with the balance deferred against the November and December cost base.

The remaining €5.5m of income recognised is made up of a direct grant of €2.8m for our inter-county players, along with our annual coaching and games grants of €2.3m, and €400k from the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Because of the GAA’s straitened finances, investment in Games Development shrank to €6.4M from €13.5M.

Central Council was unable to make provision for Club Grounds Grants for 2020 but remains committed to reinstating this support as soon as possible. In the interim, clubs who purchase or develop property while funding is suspended are invited to submit a grant application for retrospective support.

 Ard Stiúrthóir of the GAA Tom Ryan, left, and Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael John Horan on arrival at Dáil Éireann in Dublin where representatives from the FAI, GAA & IRFU sporting bodies made a collaborative proposal last September to Government on a roadmap for the safe return of supporters to stadia in Ireland.
 Ard Stiúrthóir of the GAA Tom Ryan, left, and Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael John Horan on arrival at Dáil Éireann in Dublin where representatives from the FAI, GAA & IRFU sporting bodies made a collaborative proposal last September to Government on a roadmap for the safe return of supporters to stadia in Ireland.

With Covid-19 still casting a long shadow, 2021 promises to be as financially challenging for the GAA and further Government support will be needed to support the staging of our National competitions with currently no attendances or ticket sales forecast.

“There's provision made in last year's budget for the sporting sector this year,” said GAA Ard Stiúrthóir, Tom Ryan, today.

“And we've already spoken to Sport Ireland and the Department, just about the principles of that.

“In fairness to them, highlighting to them, that we're not out of the woods yet, and we are going to be in the unfortunate position - and we don't like being in that position, we don't like having to rely on the public purse - we flagged with them already that this year is going to be challenging.

“And they know that anyway, I'm sure. In terms of the specifics, a lot of that will depend on what our seasons will look like, and the extent of what is available to us ourselves in terms of potential financial return.

“Those conversations in details haven't started yet, and there's no specific time-table in mind for them. We're in touch all the time with the Department and Sport Ireland, so it will come up.”

Despite the considerable challenges posed by the liklihood there will be little or no revenue from match attendances in 2021, the GAA’s Finance Director, Ger Mulryan, is hopeful the Association will successfully navigate the choppy financial waters.

“Despite the challenged financial position 2020 has presented and the hurdles we face again in 2021, our consolidated balance sheet at central level is strong and I am confident we will be fully capable of meeting the financial challenges presented, head-on,” wrote Mulryan in his 2020 financial results report.

“Our auditors PWC have issued a clean audit opinion and as part of the audit, they have reviewed our going concern projections, cashflows and financial forecasts.

“While there are clouds overhead today it is with a confident note that I can assure our members that the Association enters the coming year in reasonable financial health and with a positive outlook. Our collective financial strength, knowledge and expertise is due as always to the tireless dedication of our thousands of club and county treasurers nationwide.

“Their role is a difficult but extremely valued one. The Association is also indebted to the members of the Financial Management Committee, the Audit & Risk Committee and the Insurance & Risk Committee for their ongoing commitment, hard work, insight, and expertise.

“I would especially like to thank those retiring committee members and wish them well for the future.

“It is with a special thanks to all my colleagues in Croke Park and the countless volunteers who continue to provide their dedication, hard work and expertise that I am pleased to report positively on a difficult set of Central Council’s 2020 financial results and aspire to reporting a more favourable position to you next year.”