The Cork County Board were ‘hopelessly out of their depth’ when it came to dealing with the finances in relation to Páirc Uí Chaoimh, according to Michael Foley.
The sports writer for the Irish edition of The Sunday Times was speaking on Tuesday’s Off The Ball about the financial difficulty Cork GAA now find themselves in.
GAA Director General Tom Ryan revealed that Cork GAA are facing a €30 million Páirc Uí Chaoimh debt after costs for the redevelopment of the stadium, which was projected to cost €78.5 million rose to €96 million.
While The Times journalist in no way absolved Cork GAA of any wrongdoing, he did believe Croke Park played a role in the costly project.
“At the moment there’s a lot of flak being directed at the Cork County Board, and rightly so.They bear the brunt of the responsibility for this.
“But I think there is a degree of responsibility with Croke Park as well. They talk now about the lessons we’re going to learn from Páirc Uí Chaoimh in relation to future projects.
“That we need to be more on top of them and that we need to basically account for every penny, make sure everything is planned and there’s a contingency and all the rest of it. But where was all that 10 years ago?
“The worst of all is that it’s not the first time that Páirc Uí Chaoimh has nearly driven Cork GAA to insolvency. The first time, in the mid-70s, when it was first redeveloped, it was a near catastrophe for Cork GAA.
“It nearly ran the entire business out of commission and the exact same thing has happened again. So this idea that ‘We trust Cork because Cork is a great GAA county and Cork will fix it,’ is rubbish,” Foley said.
'Cork won't be a great GAA county for long if this continues'
Foley believes that it was clear for quite some time before the conclusion of the redevelopment that the County Board was not well-equipped to deal with the situation.
While the executive of the Cork County Board has now changed, The Times journalist believes that the issues will persist as a result of prior management.
“Cork is the same as any other county when you come to these massive capital projects.
“The people that were involved in putting Páirc Uí Chaoimh together and butting the money and the budget together and actually delivering on it were hopelessly out of their depth. Clearly. Clearly hopelessly out of their depth.
“And no one stepped in at any point to say, ‘Hang on, you’re making an absolute bags of this. You’re actually threatening the future of Cork GAA.’ Not only at the county level but actually at the lower levels now.
“‘Cork is a great GAA county.’ Cork won’t be a great GAA county for long if this sort of mismanagement is allowed to continue. The issue now is of course that the Cork County Board and the executive has turned over.
“It’s changed but the crowd that are in there now are dealing with the legacies of the past. And the legacy issues of the past are not going to go away for a long, long time,” Foley commented.