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GAA President reveals crowds at league openers and season ticket numbers up despite price hikes

John Horan also stated that Central Council voted unanimously to raise the price of tickets.

Attendances went up by around 1,000 supporters in the first weekend of league action in 2019.
Attendances went up by around 1,000 supporters in the first weekend of league action in 2019.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

PRESIDENT JOHN HORAN has again defended the GAA’s decision to increase ticket prices while addressing Seanad Éireann at the House of the Oireachtas this afternoon.

The GAA raised the cost of tickets for the league games in the top two divisions of both hurling and football, in addition to the price of All-Ireland final tickets in the two codes.

But Dublin native Horan said the attendances marginally increased for the opening round league games in comparison with 2018, with a rise of around 1,000 extra spectators this year.

He also noted that Central Council voted unanimously to raise the price of tickets.

“Just on a point of information, last Thursday just before the start of our national leagues, we had sold over 3,000 more season tickets than we had the previous year, in the height of the criticism for our price increases,” Horan said.

“The attendances at our national league games last Sunday marginally increased to 87,000 from the 86,000 that was there before. So people may want to criticise us but the decision that was made at Central Council – and I’m going to answer the question about the vote – it was unanimous. 

“Because we made the case to the people: we were raising the prices to do something with the money for our membership and the community that exists within this country and we will not apologise for doing good work on the ground.”

He also referenced the negative reaction to the hike in ticket prices.

“The only heartening feature that I got last week was how relevant we are as an organisation. Every TV, radio programme and newspaper drove on about the fact the GAA increased the price of its tickets.

“So in relative terms, the actual attention we got, I looked on it the glass was half full, rather than half empty,” he added.

DyFU9ulWoAEAlHe Source: Oireachtas TV

Horan, who became the first GAA president to address Seanad Eireann, reiterated that the extra revenue will be distributed among GAA clubs, both at home and abroad, in addition to the redevelopment of county grounds and to county boards themselves.

“When we came to the decision to raise our price of tickets, we did that putting in place a programme of where we were actually going to spend that increased revenue. 

“We have decided as an Association to increase our grants to clubs throughout this country from €2 million to €4 million in the space of four years. That has to be done by getting funds.

“That grant to those clubs will increase employment in those local areas, because that will go into infrastructure projects in those areas and that’s where we’re putting €0.5 million of the increased revenue we’re getting.

“You’ve also alluded to it here today about the importance of the GAA to our diaspora. Anyone who visited international cities where there are GAA clubs, the importance of those clubs to young Irish people going overseas, looking for employment and contacts because they’re suddenly away from home for the first time, looking for an outlet socially. 

“The GAA units in that part of the world have to be funded to operate and €200,000 of our increased revenue is actually going to those international units because they don’t have big sponsors, big gate receipts and we have to help them from at home here.

“Another area we’re putting it in is to improve the facilities we provide for our supporters in county grounds. Newbridge needs a new stand, it’s on our agenda to deliver it. Navan needs a new stand, it’s on our agenda to deliver it. We have Waterford on our agenda as well. 

John Horan GAA President John Horan. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“That work cannot be done unless we get a revenue stream and that’s what we did that for. We’re also giving the rest of the money back to the actual county boards.”

The format of the session, where over 15 senators took turns to speak over a two hour period before Horan gave his closing speech, made it impossible for the GAA leader to respond to every issue raised.

But Horan did not address a question about the misleading nature of the GAA press release that stated it was the “first major review of championship ticket prices since 2011″, when in fact there had been a series of price increases in recent years.

Horan also told the Seanad that a motion to add the CEOs of the Ladies Gaelic Football Association and the Camogie Association to the GAA’s Management Committee will go before Congress next month.

“This is another symbol of the close ties that already exist and that I look forward to seeing them strengthen in the months and years ahead,” he said.

“With closer ties and collaboration I would dearly love to see that slipstream of recruitment widened to include more women meaning enhanced representation of women on our committees and organizing bodies across the wide range of portfolios that need to be filled to power the organisation.

“I hope the next GAA President afforded the privilege extended to me today will be able to describe real and meaningful change in this area in the years and perhaps that ‘he’ will be a ‘she’?”

zeebs23

Join us to preview the Six Nations with Simon Zebo, Murray Kinsella and Gavan Casey on Thursday @7pm in Liberty Hall Theatre Dublin.

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Kevin O'Brien

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