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GAA chief Tom Ryan concerned by rising intercounty team costs
"The solution has to start with collective recognition that we take collective responsibility," says GAA chief in annual report
Last Updated: 11/02/20 7:22pm
Tom Ryan, Director General of the GAA, has expressed concern at the rising levels of spending on senior intercounty teams in the last year.
In 2019, county boards spent a combined €29.74m on their senior sides, representing an 11 per cent increase on the previous year.
Figures have consistently risen in recent years, as sides step up their efforts in the pursuit of on-field excellence.
Speaking in his annual report, Ryan highlighted it as a significant area of concern, and a challenge for the association.
"The combined cost of preparing and fielding senior intercounty teams for the 32 counties came to €29.74m in 2019. This was an increase of 11.6% over the previous year, a trend that simply cannot continue," he warned.
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"Counties have largely managed to grow their incomes this year to keep pace with the increasing costs.
"Indeed, the overwhelming majority of counties returned surpluses this year. But that is not the point. This is not sustainable in the long-term.
"Quite apart from being sustainable, it is not desirable. Yes, counties will invariably secure the funds they need, but at the cost of immense pressure on the officers. This outlay represents a huge proportion of our collective resources. So, the other unseen cost is all of the other GAA plans in a county that are foregone or neglected - coaching, club support, facilities and so on.
"The origins of these costs are many. The scale of professional expertise engaged with teams is ever-increasing, and the size of panels similarly. There is a responsibility at national level too with the extent of the intercounty season.
"The solution may well lie with rules and spending caps. I am hesitant only because our track record with similar rule-based enforcement around county teams is mixed. The solution has to start with collective recognition that we take collective responsibility and start to reverse the trend now."
It's not to the benefit of the overall association that we're trying to outspend each other to achieve [a] goal.
Ryan feels a cultural shift is needed
When asked about specific solutions to the problem, Ryan floated the idea of limiting the size of county squads.
"We can bring about a system where we have a defined number of players on panels," he noted. "That too will alleviate some of the costs. But there's a cultural thing as well in terms of every year everybody races hand over first to win Sam Maguire or Liam MacCarthy.
"It's not to the benefit of the overall association that we're trying to outspend each other to achieve that goal. But there's a cultural change that has to be as well apart from rules and you'll have seen recent things we've done like overseas trips and that, that maybe didn't work as well as we thought.
"You will see proposals coming out on that over the course of the next four to six months."
Páirc Uí Chaoimh
Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that the underlying long-term debt on Páirc Uí Chaoimh stands at €20m.
The cost of the Cork stadium's redevelopment had risen far above initial expectations, with Ryan confirming that the final cost is set to be in the region of €96m.
The GAA chief noted that the association have taken learnings from the process, and may look to oversee future stadium redevelopments at a central level. Currently, there are stadium redevelopment projects in Navan, Waterford and Newbridge, while Casement Park in Belfast is also set to undergo work in the coming years.