This article in yesterday’s Indo lays pretty well bare the dire financial situation currently facing the Mayo GAA County Board. It’s a situation which many knew something about in broad outline before now but it was only at the County Board meeting on Monday night that the full details of the crisis were finally revealed in all their unbridled ugliness.
No matter how you parse the figures, they don’t look pretty: a debt burden of over €11 million, with €1.6 million of bills relating to the McHale Park development still outstanding, is a crippling position for the County Board to be in. Getting out of this financial hole wouldn’t be easy even in a more benign economic environment, trying to do so given the economic headwinds the whole country (and the wider world) is facing right now will obviously be even tougher.
But at least now – for the first time ever – we know exactly what the magnitude of the problem is. Why it’s taken this long to come out and why those in the know chose to keep this information from public view for as long as they did is a pertinent question but it’s not one that’s going to alter the numbers on the debit side of this particular balance sheet. To paraphrase that awful cliché of our national meltdown, we are where we are and we know from the national stage that while engaging in the blame game might be good for blowing off steam in the short-term, it won’t help to get us out of the pit in the longer-term. That said, it must surely be the case that the particular County Board Officer who has been keeping these figures from public scrutiny for so long should now clearly be considering his position.
Charting a way out of this financial car crash is obviously where the focus has to be over the next while and the stark figures revealed this week show that there’s no time to waste to get a rescue plan sorted. As I understand it, deliberations are already well advanced towards putting in place a fund-raising programme which, if it’s successful, stands a good chance of enabling the County Board to deal with the debt burden over a realistic timeframe. From what I gather, a major plank of this programme will be a single, integrated season ticket which will be along the lines of the existing Croke Park ticket tailored to suit the needs of the county’s supporters. As such, it will need to replace all existing schemes that are currently being availed of by Mayo GAA supporters so that everything gets funneled into the same pot, a pot that, if take-up is along the lines being projected, should generate sufficient dough to get us out of this mess at some point in the future.
It’s very easy to look at the financial difficulties facing the County Board with the benefit of perfect hindsight, just as so many sage commentators have lined up to do so in relation to our national travails. Sure, we can all see now that the development of McHale Park was the wrong project at the wrong time but it’s a project that has been undertaken and it’s not something we can simply wish away at this stage. The new model McHale Park, soon to be Elverys McHale Park (another plank in the financial recovery plan), is there and is an important asset in its own right and it’ll still be there once this millstone has been dealt with. That’s going to take significant time, effort and resources but, no more than the national situation, if the right actions are taken now it’s something we can one day hope to move beyond.