Gary Carr/INPHO Katie Taylor.
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Government still considering funding Taylor’s Croke Park fight but May date an issue
Sports minister Thomas Byrne has also rejected Eddie Hearn’s assertion that his department did not engage on the issue.

SPORTS MINISTER THOMAS Byrne TD says the government are still considering a financial contribution to the staging of Katie Taylor’s rematch with Amanda Serrano at Croke Park, and has rejected a claim from her promoter Eddie Hearn that his department did not engage with Taylor’s camp on the issue. 

Hearn yesterday said that Taylor’s long-awaited homecoming fight on 20 May would not take place at Croke Park but instead at the much smaller 3Arena, owing to costs. 

Hearn claimed it would have been three times more expensive to stage the fight in Croke Park than it would have been to do so at Wembley Stadium. He has definitively ruled out using Croke Park for the May fight, but said it will be revisited in the event of a third meeting between Taylor and Serrano. 

Croke Park Stadium Director Peter McKenna today replied that the fight’s prospect broke down over security costs, which Croke Park argued should have been carried by Matchroom. McKenna said those security costs are “just the way we do things”, citing the “carnage” around the Euro 2020 final at Wembley as a contrast. 

Hearn has also called on the Irish government to step in to help fund the fight, saying it was “disappointing ” that they had not done so given their previous track record in contributing to major events. 

But speaking in the Dáil today, Thomas Byrne TD – who took over the sport portfolio from Jack Chambers following December’s reshuffle – said his department were still considering the issue as it is undergoing the standard procedure of a cost/benefit analysis. He sounded a pessimistic note around any potential funding, however, noting the proposed 20 May date for Taylor’s fight coincides with the Heineken Champions Cup, which is taking place at the Aviva Stadium on the same day. The department are understood to have conveyed their concern with this scheduling clash to Taylor’s camp. 

“The very first meeting I took with anyone outside of my department was with Katie Taylor’s manager Brian Peters in the early part of January”, said the minister in the Dáil chamber. 

“They explained to us that there was a funding gap between what the promoters were prepared to pay and what the fight would actually cost. We said, ‘Yes, the government does support major events, but there is a process to go through.’ What we did immediately after that was to raise queries on what the cost would be and other details that would be necessary. The Department is currently considering responses to those queries.

“What I would say is that one of the difficulties is with the date. If you are doing the calculations for cost/benefit for tourism – which major events have to go through -  20 May is already hosting the Heineken Champions Cup final which is a huge event in European rugby and Dublin tourism will be full that particular night. A fight in November, which was previously mooted last year, would have an entirely different calculation.”

The Minister also rejected assertion’s from Matchroom that there has been no dialogue with the Irish government on the prospect of funding a 20 May fight.

“The consideration is still ongoing but what Mr. Hearn said on some MMA Channel yesterday that the government had not been in touch is simply not the case. There have been a range of meetings and correspondence over the last while.” 

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