Dan Sheridan/INPHO
Red Army

A record nine sell-out crowds saw Thomond Park attendances almost double last season

Munster have released their projected financial results for the 2016/17 season.

MUNSTER ARE SET to record a cash flow surplus of €310,000 following the conclusion of the 2016/17 season, with a record nine sell-out crowds, including six at Thomond Park, contributing to the considerable turnaround in their financial performance.

The province’s accounts for last year showed a cash flow deficit of €1.93 million but a substantial increase in gate receipts over the course of this campaign, as well as a grant from the IRFU, are the main drivers behind the projected improvement.

Presenting the financial update at Munster’s AGM last night, the club’s head of finance and operations Philip Quinn revealed gate income increased by €2.5 million this season.

The Maori All Blacks game in November as well as home ties in the knockout stages of the Guinness Pro12 and Champions Cup saw attendances increase from 124,000 to 243,000, while the style of play on the pitch cannot be overlooked as a major factor.

Overall, nine of Munster’s games sold-out last season with ticket sales for both Thomond Park and Musgrave Park in Cork rising by 52% to 305,000 while the attendance rate of tickets sold rose from 62% to 80%.

“Professional team costs continue to rise, primarily due to inflationary player wage increases and injury cover during the season, while the successes on-field saw an upsurge in player win bonuses and incentives,” the province said.

“Much of the latter was however offset by ensuing sponsorship bonuses and a significant increase in funding from the IRFU who Munster continue to work closely with.”

general view Thomond Park flags Inpho / Billy Stickland Inpho / Billy Stickland / Billy Stickland

Meanwhile, Rassie Earmus says he’s relishing coming up against quality opposition in the form of Leicester Tigers, Racing 92 and Castres in next season’s Champions Cup pool stages.

The draw for the 2017/18 competition was made this morning with the southern province pitted in Pool 4 alongside Leicester and the two French clubs.

“When you play in this competition, you are facing the best of the best, the Champions Cup remains the ultimate accolade in Europe, and no matter who you draw, it’s always going to be tough,” Erasmus said.

“In the past nine or ten months I have seen first-hand the quality and competitiveness of the Guinness Pro12 and Europe is no different.

“It probably sounds clichéd, but there is no such thing as an easy game. Take us for example, like I said last year, we would have been seen as the easy draw, instead our guys topped their pool and reach the semi-final of the competition. Anything can happen in cup rugby and that’s the challenge everyone faces.

“Playing two of the three pool sides for consecutive seasons will be a real test of how far ourselves, Leicester and Racing have come in a year. While delighted to do so well in last season’s competition, we know that we have much to work on all three sides will pose a massive challenge.

“For the supporters I’m glad that once again we can look forward to three massive pool games in Thomond Park against quality French and English opposition.”

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