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‘We can’t afford a commercial manager’ says Mayo GAA chairman

Sport

FACTS AND FIGURES?Last week’s Mayo GAA Board meeting was told that repayments for MacHale Park now cost €30,000 per month.?Pic: Sportsfile

Daniel Carey

Castlebar

MAYO GAA probably need a commercial manager, but can’t afford to employ one at the moment, County Board chairman Mike Connelly revealed at a meeting in MacHale Park, Castlebar last Thursday.
“A commercial manager is probably something that this organisation needs, but at this point in time, we just couldn’t afford it,” he told delegates. “We need to get to a level where we would be able to afford it … At the minute, I just think it’s a bit premature, unfortunately.”
The chairman had earlier said that he would ‘really love’ the County Board to be ‘self-sufficient’, and expressed the hope that would be ‘some day’. MacHale Park was costing approximately €30,000 a month in repayments, he added, and bills had to be paid.
“We’re going to have a turnover of probably in the region of three to four million, and in a voluntary capacity … one man, Michael Cummins, operating,” he told Ballintubber delegate Ollie Dillon. “There’s a lot of businesses in this county – and probably this country – that probably haven’t even half this turnover, but have an awful lot more people involved.”
Gary Dunleavy (Moy Davitts) had pointed out that Dublin have a commercial and marketing manager (Tomás ‘Mossy’ Quinn’) who’s bringing in money ‘all the time’.
“Why are we tapping the clubs for €500?” he asked, referring to the levy imposed on clubs for All-Ireland final replay tickets. “This time last year or two years ago, we were selling calendars to raise money … That’s not what we should be at. We should be at bigger than that and looking at bigger than that. In this day and age, going back to the clubs tapping them for every last penny is not effective …
“We’re getting huge crowds, in fairness. We’ve got great support [from] all over the world. There’s people spending huge amounts of money to come back and watch us in [All-Ireland] semi-finals and finals, and again for a replay, and we’re back looking for €500 from the clubs ... We should be looking at the bigger picture, and it’s not happening … You talk about paying for this building [MacHale Park]. It’s not fair to ask the clubs to continue to pay for it.”
A commercial director for Mayo GAA was proposed in 2011 in the Mayo GAA Strategic Action Plan. Liam Horan, who chaired the committee which drew up that document, said five years ago that a commercial director could raise ‘between €500,000 and €850,000 a year’ for Mayo GAA.
Speaking at last Thursday’s meeting, Kevin McDonnell (Kilmaine) said a commercial manager was something that ‘should be looked at’, telling Mike Connelly: “You said it yourself – we’re a business turning over €4 million. In fairness to Michael [Cummins] and yourselves there [the top table], you do a huge amount of work and there’s only a certain amount ye can do ... Are we maximising all the money that we’re bringing in – as a county, as a business, as a brand?”
Treasurer Kevin O’Toole revealed that expenditure this year would be ‘up nearly 50 per cent’ on 2015, while the cost of Mayo GAA teams in 2016 would be ‘well over a million euro’. Responding to criticism of the cost of ‘bump-up’ tickets for the All-Ireland finals, he reiterated that additional tickets gave clubs a chance to fund-raise. He added that he had faced ‘stick’ from the corporate sector because the County Board had ‘halved the tickets and doubled the price’ of corporate tickets.
The Tourmakeady clubman added: “Mayo is a brand name, but don’t assume that there’s a huge pile of money out there ... We have cowboy operators and they are raising money on the backs of the Mayo team … It would be dangerous to assume that there’s a huge amount of money out there … We do not get the same grants as Dublin, we do not get the same sponsors as Dublin. But we do maximise what we can.”
JP Lambe, who stepped down as County Board treasurer last year after 18 years, said the possibility of a commercial manager had been raised ‘at one stage’ when the redevelopment of MacHale Park began.
“We found out that the commercial manager, before he would do anything, his fee would be roughly €50,000 a year. So that kinda knocked the commercial manager on the head.”

DATE FOR YOUR DIARY
December 4
THE Mayo GAA Convention will take place in the McWilliam Park Hotel, Claremorris on Sunday, December 4. Nominations and motions are to be in by November 3.

 

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