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Treasurer of Clare GAA Michael Gallagher. Pic by Arthur Ellis

Gallagher: “The Well Is Now Dry”

Derrick Lynch

Treasurer of Clare GAA Michael Gallagher has reiterated his warning about the finances of the board being in an extremely difficult position ahead of the coming year.

The Doonbeg clubman addressed delegates at this week’s online convention in which he detailed the challenges facing the board and the realities that must be faced if a turn in fortunes is to be achieved. He likened the boards finances to a well, and stated that “the well is now dry, and it is up to each of us sitting around our computer screens this evening to take on the stark task of replenishing it”.

This years accounts show that Clare GAA is carrying a deficit of close to €500,000 with that figure including a loss of almost €200,000 on the sale of part of the land purchased for the Caherlohan Centre of Excellence.

Mr Gallagher addressed that issue and detailed that approximately 47 acres were purchased in April 2005 at the site. He outlined that the land on one side of the road was of “excellent quality” while the land on the opposite side was of “poor quality”. He explained that the land was sold as one unit as the option to purchase just one side was not there. He clarified that the piece of land which was sold this year had been up for sale for some time, and outlined that the initial purchase had been made at a time when land prices were at a premium in the height of the Celtic Tiger.

He identified some of the key figures outlined by auditor Anthony Fitzpatrick which showed that gate receipts for the year were down by 58%, National League shares dropped by 77%, Commercial Income reduced by 59% while a 73% drop was recorded in the income from Summer Camps and Coaching. The treasurer stated his opinion that the “words of wisdom and warning” issued by Mr Fitzpatrick should be heeded.

He outlined that long time sponsor of Clare GAA Pat O’Donnell also deserved huge credit once more in 2020, after he paid out 90% of his sponsorship money during the initial lockdown period earlier this year. Mr Gallagher told the meeting that this came at a time when “the executive were wondering how we were going to pay even the most basic of bills” and recorded his thanks to Pat O’Donnell.

Clare GAA TV was hailed a hugely positive project in 2020 with a number of games being live streamed for a modest fee. Mr Gallagher revealed that an income of €24,000 was realised from the project, but stated that “it was not just about the money” as this was a year when it was important to be able to bring the games to patrons who were not able to attend the behind closed doors fixtures. He said that this was a trend he felt would continue in the future for people who would prefer to watch games “from their armchair or deckchair” and he thanked Mike Corry, Sean Chaplin and PRO Michael O’Connor for their work throughout the season.

In looking forward to 2021, the treasurer targetted two areas for particular attention, namely team expenses and fundraising. He expressed his concern at the costs being accrued in running teams but said that everyone was committed to ensuring that all county teams have the best possible financial support to allow them to compete at the highest level.

The blank space under the fundraising schedule in the accounts generated plenty debate over the last few weeks, and Mr Gallagher outlined that it is an area that needs attention. He detailed that the supporters clubs for both the hurling and football panels had engaged in fundraising during the year and he outlined that this helped in reducing pressure on the boards finances in carrying costs that would have otherwise accrued. He said that the responsibility of raising funds is not one which lies solely with the executive, and asked that clubs would also weigh in on the effort. He said he recognises that clubs are fighting their own battles and are under pressure financially but called for a collective effort in addressing the issue.

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