As has already been mentioned in the comments, the Mayo News has a story this week – here – on the rescheduling of the MacHale Park debt. It’s a bit of financial engineering that will save the County Board €200k in annual repayments, with the monthly bill falling from around €48k to close to €33k.
Croke Park is taking on the €5 million Ulster Bank loan so the County Board’s payments will be to HQ – who now own all of our €10 million debt pile – rather than the bank, with the reduction in the annual bill due to the fact that the repayment period has been extended out for 29 years. So, a bit like what the Greeks are finding out, the debt isn’t going away but is instead being booted a bit further down the road.
It’s a deal that obviously makes a whole pile of sense from the Board’s point of view and any rescheduling arrangement that takes the pressure off financially has to be viewed as a good one. While welcoming the chance to use the extra elbow room the deal potentially provides to put more money back into the game within the county, Chairman Mike Connelly was careful to caution that this will only happen if the county team continues to perform at a high level each year:
But the only way we will have €15,000 extra a month to play with is if we continue to be successful on the field, if we continue to reach All-Ireland semi-finals on a regular basis.
We all know that there’s no guarantee this will happen – in the ten years prior to James Horan’s appointment we only got to the All-Ireland semis on two occasions (2004 and 2006, when we went on to reach the final both times) and we bowed out at the quarters three times (2002, 2005 and 2009). In five of those ten years we fell in the qualifiers.
Now, I’m not suggesting that such a fate lies ahead of us over the coming ten years but it’s worth noting all the same that we’re not guaranteed to continue making it to the business end of the championship with the regularity we’ve become accustomed to during the Horan years. Seen in this light, the County Board’s debt deal is as much a hedge against future underperformance as it is an opportunity for additional financial breathing space in the here and now.