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Cork County Board secretary says €550,000 deficit represents 'crisis-point'

Kevin O’Donovan admitted ‘it’s not sustainable to continue with losses indefinitely’.

Páirc Uí Chaoimh stadium.
Páirc Uí Chaoimh stadium.
Image: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Updated Nov 29th 2019, 8:01 PM

CORK COUNTY BOARD secretary/CEO Kevin O’Donovan has admitted that the county is at “crisis-point” financially, but he is confident that measures taken will improve the landscape for 2020.

Ahead of the annual convention of Sunday, 8 December, O’Donovan, chairperson Tracey Kennedy and treasurer Diarmuid Gowen attended a press conference on Friday evening to discuss the report.

O’Donovan didn’t attempt to airbrush the deficit for the year of €559,058. A drop in gate receipts of nearly €200,000 and a fall of €49,000 for the Cork GAA Clubs’ Draw affected income while there was a €90,000 increase in administration expenses and O’Donovan accepted that it was unsustainable.

“We are at crisis-point,” he said.

“Crisis is a dangerous word, but we can’t have another year like this. Yes, our reserves are secure but it’s not sustainable to continue with losses indefinitely.

“The drop in attendances was huge this year. You look back and see if there was a notable difference in how the games were run and I didn’t see that. Yes, shutting down for the summer is killing us because of our nature as a dual county.

“Crashing games into August and September weekends, with only supporters of those teams present – you can forget about games as a neutral anymore, because they’re all on at the same time – that’s killing us.

“We were unfortunate that there weren’t replays in county finals or semi-finals but that’s not something we should be budgeting for, that should be a bonus.

 “Next year, anywhere we can find space for a game without county players, in round two of a three-game series, we’re playing that game in July. We know guys have J1s and so on, we will give a fixture programme in December so they can plan accordingly.

“But it is a summer game, it is a community game, it was not a game invited for floodlights in the freezing cold, where children can’t go. It is a summer game – it’s grand to go to the county final in October but not grand to be going to a second-round game in mid-September, when we’re all back to school.”

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In 2018, Chill Insurance paid Cork €400,000 but this figure was €330,000 for 2019.

“Our sponsors are brilliant supporters but new deals are now performance-related,” O’Donovan said.

“While our underage teams were successful, it’s not linked to that, it’s linked to the success of the senior teams.

“While the footballers had a good year, we didn’t get to All-Ireland semi-finals in either code and that’s where we need to be pitching up to maximise sponsorship.

“We do need more commercial partners, we are behind the curve with other counties in that. There will be a commercial manager appointed in the medium term, possibly shared with the stadium, possibly in a role with [fundraising body] Cairde Chorcaí, but that has got to come urgently.

“You might that if we’re running losses then the last thing we need is staff, but we need people who can generate revenue.”

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About the author:

Denis Hurley

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