We are where we are

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.

20 thoughts on “We are where we are

  1. “If they themselves cannot stand up to the problems they have, and see what they can do and then go ask for help, if their first option is ‘we’re in the crapper, let’s go and get someone else to take us out of the crapper’… unless you face up to the reality of where you are, it makes things an awful lot more difficult.”

    The above quote from a Connacht council person appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Thursday, November 17, 2011.

    Reading the above shows what the rest of Connacht think of our plight. The entire article should be read. We are contrasted with the excellent under age structures in Roscommon and we are informed that we are the exception rather than the norm in regards our financial situation. How the mighty have fallen.

  2. so they get money from elverys for naming the stadium ,

    they get perhaps 4 good crowds in there a year ?

    income from sale of jersies ?

    income from clubs and affiliates ?

    season ticket scheme for following the team.

    advertising in the stadium i presume is a minimal return…

    any other ways of raising funds ?

  3. The information I would like to know at the moment is who else tendered to the Job and what price did they tender at.

    The reason we need to know this is because of the rumours that other companies had significantly lower prices then Mountain view securities. I heard one price was 8.5 million, this might not be true but there needs to be answers and accountability from those in charge.

  4. Hi Willie Joe,

    As the individual who chaired the Finance & Funding Subcommittee as part of Liam Horan’s overall Strategic Review I am not at all surprised at what has now come to light. What has surprised me is that they have actually admitted it.

    For individuals who went to great lengths to block our attempt to review the finances of the County I can only conclude that they were forced into disclosing the position by Ulster Bank and Croke Park.

    One has to only read Liam Horan’s Strategic Plan and its Financial Conclusions and Recommendations are there in black and white. The Mayo GAA Executive, including the Clubs turned a blind eye to our findings and recommendations and they continued to stick their heads in the sand and back the County Board.

    Our estimate of the exposure of the County Board to repayments was as follows;

    Yr 2011 – € 1,342,000
    Yr 2012-2020 – € 850,000 per annum
    Yr 2021-2025 – € 650,000 per annum

    County Board Revenue for the last 5 years was as follows;

    2010 – € 1,494,000
    2009 – € 1,924,476
    2008 – € 1,715,648
    2007 – € 1,816,907
    2006 – € 1,902,092

    Even if we maintained our 2006 income for the next 15 years we couldn’t afford McHale Park. It was never a runner and what was presented as a great asset could now destroy Mayo GAA for generations to come as we direct money away from Coaching and Games development to pay for this facility http://www.irishexaminer.com/sport/gaa/mayo-bid-to-tackle-team-budget-as-costs-soaring-174187.html

    ‘Islandeadygaa’ you are right, there are serious questions to be answered in relation to the expenditure incurred on McHale Park. All these questions were asked by our Subcommittee and were not answered by the County Board. Compare what Armagh GAA has spent on their ground development to what we have incurred on McHale Park. Its makes for very interesting reading!

    We recommended an Independent Financial Review of the finances of the County Board over the last 5 years and I am still of the opinion that this is required so that confidence can be restored to the finances and the information behind the finances.

    There is a funny side to all this in so far as Ulster Bank and Croke Park actually think that these Guys will come up with a Plan in 2 weeks!!

    Like the Political leaders in Greece, Italy and Ireland our GAA Leaders in Mayo should now do the decent thing and stand down. If they don’t then the Clubs should force them out.

    The time has come for Clubs to take action.

    1. The County Board should resign or be removed

    2. Put an Interim Board in place

    3. Set up an Independent Finance Committee and bring in Experts to prepare a proper Financial Plan and negotiate with Ulster Bank and Croke Park

    4. Update Liam Horan’s Strategic Plan to reflect the findings and recommendations of the Independent Financial Review and adopt this plan

    5. Put a new Board in Place to implement the Strategic Plan

    Finally, as an individual who lives in Dublin I must say I am very impressed with Dublin GAA’s Strategic Plan
    http://www.hill16.ie/uploads/The_Blue_Wave.pdf

  5. Thanks for the article WJ
    Great post PJ, i agree with all that you state

    A general question – what is the worst case scenario here if the money can not be raised to meet the repayments on the Ulster Banck loan? Who can Ulster Bank take to court? What is the legal corp entity behind the County Board? Can a county board declare bankruptcy?

  6. Let the County Board Executive have the humility to go back to Liam Horan and his great hard working committee (who,by the way did all their work purely for their love of Mayo football and no expense sheet was turned in.) and ask them to help dig us out of this disaster.

  7. How could so much money be spent on a stand with six poles in front of you blocking your view of the pitch? If they only spent 4/5 million on the development then fair enough, but they spent 15/16 million, how much would it cost to build a cantiliver roof 3/4 million? A lot of questions need to be answered (but will they?)

  8. I agree with Tom Walsh, your comments are very valid. As regards fund raising, let the County Board initiate all the fund raising, and what they need to assist them is a Full Time Fund Raising Officer,
    .
    Yes they could promote a few Concerts at Elverys McHale Park, in 2012 for a start.

  9. The Convention is a few weeks away.

    Anybody that wants to oust this Board and hold them accountable can put their names forward. Talk is cheap – time for action

  10. Every team is subject to scrutiny. So to is the management team. Either the team and its players are good enough and do the business or not. The managerial team is thus examined as well.

    If the team, individual or manager is not good enough a simple process ensues. They are replaced. Unfortunately we see its hard to send a sub on to a county board or a club board. A team and a manager operate within the human eye and are subject to the pack. The machinations of the backroom gurus take place far from the madding crowd.

    So what happens now? I know what should be done.
    (A) The county board should step down immediately. They tried to do something. It failed for one reason or another. Life happens but now its time to give new men or women a shot at filling the large hole.

    (B) A new county board be appointed. Their duty to be limited to running the leagues, championships and coaching within the county. In other words…real work. Due to our financial state these posts should be done on a non remuneration or expenses basis, the same as most volunteers in the GAA.

    (C) Just like in Greece and Italy we should appoint a group of people tasked with (1) Appointing a commercial manager to tackle the debt. Pay a basic wage with bonuses for every million raised. This manager to oversee sponsorship and attracting revenue.(2) This group to oversee the Mayo Senior, U21 and Minor teams.
    Those are the costliest items in the system. They also are our shop window. The present managers remain but now would outline what expenditure needed and cost associated with their teams.

    Outside this group a third forum comprised as an audit committee who would on a yearly basis run the rule over all items connected with the county, from finance to managers and deliver that report to the followers via the local press and media.

    Mayo are a Rolls Royce of football. A proud and noble county but at times whilst I have been proud of our county, its people and their achievements, my worst moments have come from our football disasters and ill luck.

    Having had to fight to get lights in McHale Park through various objections etc we then found that during the minor hurling final this year there were problems about whether they could be turned on or not.

    If we have lights but cannot afford to turn them on then we are f****D. That would be like owning the above mentioned Rolls Royce but having just Euro 1-50 to put a litre of petrol in it. No point in driving it from the your garage if you can only afford to get as far as the forecourt for a small fill up.

    Whilst the county is Rolls Royce it appears to me that we have taken a bicycle mechanic’s view on how to run its football affairs. We deserve better.

  11. No thought went into the project in the first place. Was it needed? – No. The end product is far from finished and far from impressive. “Playing the blame game is only good for blowing off steam in the short-term”. Boll+x to that, the county board should be booted out and a precendent set, that this reckless behaviour will not be tolerated. This has the potential to ruin football in Mayo, something nobody with any sense of heritage, or simple love of gaelic football would like to see.

  12. You make some really good points ‘ontheroad’

    I must say that I am astonished with the lack of interest from within the County to force change at Board level and call for heads to roll over the last year. Can the Clubs not see what is happening? Do they not care enough to do something about it? Are they going to allow this regime to destroy our proud County?

    All is not lost, we have many options and we have people with real expertise who can sort this issue. I meet great Mayo people every day through my work who would respond to a call for ‘HELP’, all that has to happen is that someone has to make that call and this call has to come from the Clubs.

    The following are 2 options which could be considered;

    Every Club in the County should convene an EGM immediately and have an agenda with 3 items on it;

    1. Do we have confidence in the current County Board?

    2. Should we seek to convene an EGM of Mayo GAA?

    3. Will we call Liam Horan and establish if he will act as an Interim Chairman to assist the County through these difficult times?

    The Chairperson of the Clubs should be mandated to attend the EGM of the County Board and vote in accordance with the Clubs decision.

    If the majority of Clubs in Mayo say ‘YES’ to all three questions then an EGM should take place immediately with 2 items on the Agenda;

    1. Do we have confidence in the current County Board?

    2. Do we appoint Liam Horan to act as an Interim Chairman

    If the answer to the above questions is YES then we are moving forward with a new energy, a new belief and with real credibility.

    As a County we will have taken a huge step forward and we will have put down a marker for real change.

    Croke Park and Ulster Bank may not openly support this action but I would think that they will see this as a positive move.

    Next step – Liam will need to contact some of the many people that assisted him in preparing the Strategic Plan or indeed others with a love for Mayo and the necessary expertise to help.

    From this body of people an Interim Committee needs to be formed to lead negotiations with Croke Park and Ulster Bank.

    This cannot be a standalone process as consideration needs to be given to the bigger picture. Let’s face it a successful Mayo provides Croke Park and Ulster Bank with a better chance of getting some or all of their money back. Once agreement is reached with Croke Park and Ulster Bank then the Strategic Plan can be updated and put in front of the Clubs for their approval.

    Once the Plan is in place a New Board is appointed to implement its recommendations and take us forward to a more positive and successful period in our history.

    If the Clubs are unwilling to take the above steps they could consider the following …publicly abstain at the County Board Convention. They could stand up and make it clear they do not wish to exercise their franchise as they believe that there needs to be a fundamental appraisal of who is running the GAA in Mayo. By voting, they perpetuate a failed system. By publicly abstaining, they send a message that the Board does not enjoy their mandate. If enough Clubs do this, perhaps change may come. If not, the same failed system will perpetuate itself, with ever-worsening consequences for Mayo GAA.

    For the record, I only got to know Liam Horan personally 14 months ago when I received a call from him. After a 30 minute telephone conversation Liam had convinced me to join his Committee. I did this because Liam gave me a commitment that his sole objective was to improve Mayo GAA. Despite the County Boards best attempts to block the launch of the Strategic Plan, Liam was true to his word and decided to put his reputation on the line and against the will of the County Board he and indeed the Members of the Steering Committee launched the Plan because we all felt that it was the right thing for Mayo GAA.

    Liam has led the way, the Plan is 99% complete and I would strongly recommend that we follow it.

  13. Most Mayo supporters at home and abroad and players agree with all the above comments but nothing will happen unless all clubs get the ball rolling so to speak. We have all seen what has happened with our county senior team in the past year with new commitment and ideas.Maybe it might be a good idea for members of the steering committee to contact their own and neighbouring clubs ….

  14. I think we have to be careful here not to make this spot of bother into a County Board v The Review or steering Committee.

    The Mayo Review was presented to and rejected by the county board. If my memory is correct that Review group dissociated themselves from the final county board offering.

    The present situation in the county concerns ALL Mayo followers . Those that were on the various review committees I am sure have moved on in their lives. Either the main body of Mayo people want change or they don’t. The review and steering committees put their time and effort into last year. At the end of the day is was for nil.

    Its time for everybody else to step forward now or else stay silent and get more of the status quo. We the followers give of our support , time and energy. We are excluded from the decision making but are expected to shoulder the wheel when it falls off.Either we have a full partnership of our county team or we don’t. That’s the pertinent question.

  15. Tremendous posts by PJ Monaghan,you are one of the first to slate anything to do with the Mayo set up on this site and get away with it.The Mayo county board is a disgrace and has been dominated by a number of brainless hacks for the last 30 years.Its time to shaft all the members of this old boys club.

  16. Hyde Parks capacity has been reduced by 15,000 to just 18,000. This in effect means no more Connacht finals for Roscommon. So spend 13 million on your ground, get way over your head in debt is the way to go after all. Stand up and take a bow Mayo County Board – all is forgiven!!

  17. Sligo and Leitrim don’t host Connacht finals due to smaller capacities in their respective grounds.
    Connacht council would not be happy with reduced revenue resulting from a final played with only 18,000 in Roscommon, especially with 2 white elephants in Castlebar and Salthill.

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