Galway county board to sell land to reduce debt

A parcel of land near Athenry will be sold by the Galway GAA to reduce the organisation's debt.

"Our current infrastructure debt stands at €3.1 million and our annual repayments of these loans in 2017 amount to €265,000," said county secretary John Hynes in the annual report to the county convention on Monday night at the Loughrea Hotel.

Hynes said the ill-fated purchase of land at Mountain South, near Athenry, was costing the county board far too much in repayments on an annual basis and the land there would be for sale in the near future.

"To avoid an unsustainable increase in our loan repayments in 2018, we plan to sell the property at Mountain South and use the sale proceeds to reduce our debts and repayments."

The Galway Hurling Board purchased more than 100 acres of land during the last boom, and the plan at that time was to develop a state-of-the-art training complex.

That never happened, however, and the €2.8 million which was paid for the land has been costing too much since it was borrowed. The decision had been taken to sell the land on and to pay off as much of the debt as possible.

"The reduction of our capital debt is one of our top priorities and one of the biggest challenges we are facing. We will continue to make every effort to improve our financial performance in the forthcoming year in partnership with our clubs, our various sub-committees, and the Tribesmen Supporters Club," said Hynes

Overall surplus of 418,00

Despite €265,000 being paid out on loan repayments, 2017 was a good year financially for the board, including a reduction in the cost of running the inter-county teams.

Even with the senior hurling team winning a first Liam McCarthy since 1988 and collecting a National League title, and the footballers securing promotion to division one for next spring, there was a year-on-year reduction of €66,454 in spending made by Galway in 2017. The total cost of running the county teams coming in at €1,295,639.

Galway's overall surplus of €418,000 was partly attributed to a pre-All Ireland hurling final fundraiser and €286,000 from the Galway Tribesmen Supporters' Club.

Another factor was the income of €212,000 from the county fundraising draw (car draw ) spearheaded by outgoing county treasurer John McGann, and which was well supported by clubs, members and supporters.

The surplus in 2016 was only €79,421, so an improvement of almost €340,000 was significant over the past 12 months.

Achieving such a reduction in team costs, while having such a successful season, was a solid achievement, Burke said, while the senior All-Ireland hurling success also helped to boost income for the board significantly.

National League gate receipts increased from €97,408 in 2016 to €195,680 in 2017, while gross funding from supporters' clubs experienced a massive jump from €109,015 to €285,930 this season.

Sponsorship for the current year for the board remained steady at more than €500,000 in 2017, and Hynes acknowledged the continued and ongoing financial support of Pat and Una McDonagh of Supermac's, who sponsor all of the county's hurling and football teams.

The board would continue to focus on staying financially sound over the coming years, and it would introduce measures to enhance and improve its own internal controls and procedures, he said.

It also intended looking at fundraising initiatives to sustain and underpin the continuous development and performances of the county's inter-county players and teams.

Improvements to county grounds

The board also hoped to have a positive decision to a Government Sports Grant application for the much-needed construction of new dressing rooms, and referee and medical facilities at Tuam Stadium.

It was also noted that a decision on the badly-needed flood lighting at Pearse Stadium would be made late next year.

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