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GAA call for decrease in county spending after bumper financial year

As the GAA's Director-General Tom Ryan revealed the Association's strong financial standing with the release of his Annual Report on Tuesday afternoon, he warned of the spiralling costs required for the management of inter-county teams. 

"Our collective finances continue to grow," said the GAA's Director-General Tom Ryan by way of his Annual Report on Tuesday afternoon. "My principle financial misgivings are not revenue related, however."

On a day where Ryan announced that the GAA's revenues for 2019 had hit a record high of €73.9 million, the Association's concern surrounding the spiralling costs of facilitating an inter-county team was made clear.

"The combined cost of preparing and fielding senior inter-county teams for the 32 counties came to €29.74 million in 2019," the Annual Report read. "This was an increase of 11.6% over the previous year, a trend that simply cannot continue.

Despite the majority of counties finding the means to increase their income in tandem with these costs, Ryan believes the current situation is not sustainable in the long-term.

"Quite apart from [this], it is not desirable," he clarified. "Yes, counties will invariably secure the funds they need, but at the cost of immense pressure on the officers.

"This outlay represents a huge proportion of our collective resources. So, the other unseen cost is all of the other GAA plans in a county that are foregone or neglected - coaching, club support, facilities and so on."

Assessing the roots of the rise in expenditure, Ryan pointed to the increased professionalism in terms of a county's preparation.

Crucially, in an effort to halt such spending, the GAA is open to the possibility of imposing spending limits on counties, but not without careful thought on the matter.

"The solution may well lie with rules and spending caps," he wrote. "I am hesitant only because our track record with similar rule-based enforcement around county teams is mixed.

"The solution has to start with a collective recognition that we take collective responsibility and start to reverse the trend now.

"Clubs are well run. Counties are well run, but we need to get better.

GAA 18 August 2019; Tom Ryan looks on as Tipperary manager Liam Sheedy and coaches Darragh Egan and Eamon O'Shea celebrate with the Liam MacCarthy cup. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

The Director-General's desire to see county spending reduced comes on the back of a bumper financial year for the GAA, however.

A significant portion of the €73.9 million brought in by the GAA across 2019 can be linked back to gate receipts, the Annual Report clarified.

Between Gaelic football and hurling, the sale of tickets for championship games amounted to €28.7 million; the replayed All-Ireland football final accounting for €3 million.

Looking ahead to 2020, Tom Ryan's message regarding the financial aspect of the GAA was clear.

"Good financial management and good governance in all our units is of the utmost importance," he wrote. "Now more than ever.

"And the costs of preparing teams simply must be curtailed. Any of us who have control of either of these spheres has responsibility."

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Croke Park GAA Gaelic Football Hurling Tom Ryan

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