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Mayo GAA commercial chief must be given time


FLASHBACK Back in 2010, Aidan Kilcoyne (right, who was working as a sales executive with Mayo GAA) was pictured with then-Mayo GAA Board Assistant Treasurer, Tommy Goonan, at MacHale Park, Castlebar.  Pic: Michael Donnelly

Aidan Kilcoyne assesses the news that Mayo GAA are to appoint a Chief Commercial Officer

Mike Finnerty

THE new Mayo GAA Chief Commercial Officer must be given sufficient time to put their own stamp on the role and get significant support from the County Board if they are to achieve their long-term aims.
That’s according to former Mayo footballer, Aidan Kilcoyne, who worked as a Sales Executive for Mayo GAA back in 2010, and has first-hand experience of trying to generate revenue for the County Board.
The well-known Knockmore player, who is currently employed as Head of Marketing for Europe at Paddy Power Betfair, believes that the role — which was posted on a recruitment website by the GAA on Friday week last — ‘is going to be a very positive development’.
“For me, the success of this role will be based on the amount of time they are given to develop it, and the support they get from the County Board,” Kilcoyne told The Mayo News.
“My first impression would be that this is a huge opportunity. Looking at the job spec, it’s a very broad role and feels like a blank canvas for the person who gets the job.
“I noticed the phrase, ‘managing expectations’ in the job spec and I think that will be the big challenge in the first year,” he added. “Managing the expectations from both inside the County Board and outside.
“Everyone will want this person to deliver results overnight, but it doesn’t work like that, not in a wide-ranging role like this.
“People can’t just sit back and say, ‘We’ve made the appointment, now we’ll let the good times roll’. It’s a big task, the person who takes it on needs to have a very clear list of priorities, because no one person could be tasked with doing all of that in the first six or twelve months.
“For the rest of the championship they will be learning the ropes, supporting the PRO with branding and marketing, making sure that existing partners like Elverys are looked after. “There will be a lot of work involved in all of that.
“Really it will be during the ‘off season’, later in the year, that the foundations for the role will be laid down.
“But you’ve got existing partners there in the County Board and Elverys, who have got a great partnership going back a long number of years, and that gives you leverage to work with.
“One of the most challenging aspects of the role initially will probably be carrying out a deep-dive cost analysis of the Mayo GAA finances — to nail down every penny that is being spent by Mayo GAA. That whole budget management side of it is very important so the support they get from the County Board in that regard is going to be crucial.”

KILCOYNE, who has also worked in media, marketing and commercial roles with Elverys Sport and Ryanair in the past, feels that there is huge potential to build the Mayo GAA ‘brand’ on a local, national and international level as part of a long-term project.
The former All-Ireland Under-21 winner cites the ‘marketability and credibility’ of the Mayo senior football team, the ‘values they epitomise’ and the size and reach of Mayo’s fanbase as among the main assets for the new Chief Commercial Officer to work with.
However, he believes that are other areas, outside the flagship senior team that can also be explored.
“I actually think though that the opportunity for growth might actually be with other teams, like the senior hurlers; or with the likes of Mayo GAA TV or the club championships.
“They need to look at the assets outside of the senior football team,” offered Kilcoyne.
“There are all sorts of partnership opportunities there, it’s about looking outside the box.
“A longer-term view needs to be taken if you’re looking to develop partnerships with businesses. Obviously, if the senior team goes well, it’s a big help but what if they get knocked out of the championship early?”
Aidan Kilcoyne was also a member of the ‘Finance and Funding’ sub-committee that contributed to the ill-fated Mayo GAA ‘Draft Strategic Action Plan’ which was produced in 2011, and believes that many of the proposals contained in that document are still relevant today.
In fact, he feels that a conversation with some of the people who were involved in that ‘root and branch’ analysis of Mayo GAA’s policies and practices eight years ago should be high on the agenda of the new Chief Commercial Officer.
“A lot of people contributed to the Strategic Review in 2011 and, in my opinion, one of the first things that the person who’s appointed should do is reach out to as many people as possible who contributed to that document,” offered Kilcoyne.
“Because while the document is eight years old, many of the ideas in there would not be.
“People like Willie Ruane of Connacht Rugby and Tomás Quinn, the commercial manager of Dublin GAA, would also be good people to talk to in the early stages of the job.
“They’re people who have a lot of experience in this area, and have made big strides in recent years.
“But, in my opinion, job one is solidify what’s there and work with existing partners; job two is develop existing partnerships; and job three is to look at developing new revenue streams.
“Mayo is probably one of the few counties where a person could come into a role like this and make a big impact.”
The closing date for applications for the position of Mayo GAA Chief Commercial Officer is this Friday, April 5.

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