GAA to cut Dublin funding and give majority of counties ‘a significant increase’

THE GAA WILL decide on a new model for games development funding at a Central Council meeting at the end of the month, which will see the Dublin’s disproportionate level of funding allocated more evenly across the country. 

Dublin have received over €21m in games development funding since 2007, while in 2021 that figure stood at €745,278. Antrim’s €199,439 put them as the second-highest county for the funding, some way behind Dublin. 

Dublin’s ability to generate significant funds through commercial activities and their recent run of dominance in the All-Ireland SFC led to calls for the funding to be redirected to counties in greater need of financial support.

At yesterday’s launch of the GAA’s annual report, director general Tom Ryan said an increase in overall funding will come into play. 

In addition, Central Council will debate two fresh funding models on the morning of Congress on 26 February, one of which will go up for vote later that day in Ballyhaunis.

The first is the John Connellan-led motion that proposes games development funding is allocated on the basis of membership numbers in each county.

The second is new model devised by a GAA sub-committee where funding will be divided into two portions of 75% for base level funding and 25% for projects.

Of the 75% base level funding, it will be allocated to counties based on three criteria:

  • 60% for player numbers
  • 25% for the number of clubs
  • 15% for participation rates

Without referencing Dublin directly, Ryan said “there will be a diminution of coaching and games funding for at least one county and the overwhelming majority of counties will see a significant increase.

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“The idea is we present each to counties and let the debate take its course. We’ll convene in Ballyhaunis on the morning of Congress, for a special Central Council meeting and everyone can have their say.”

GAA games development funding in 2021:

  • 1. Dublin – €745,278
  • 2. Antrim – €199,439
  • 3. Meath – €189,788
  • 4. Kildare – €178,480
  • 5. Carlow – €159,175
  • 6. Wicklow – €121,114
  • 7. Wexford – €116,436
  • 8. Laois – €95,325
  • 9. Kerry – €92,347
  • 10. Galway – €83,246

Meanwhile, the GAA are “happy to explore” the use of Croke Park in a proposed bid by the UK and Ireland for Euro 2028. 

On Monday it was announced that the FAI and the football associations of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland were bidding for the Euros instead of the World Cup two years later. 

Croke Park and potentially Casement Park in Belfast could come into consideration if a UK/Irish bid is successful. 

“We spoke to the FAI in the context of a 2030 bid,” said Ryan. “They did ask if we were happy with the idea that Croke Park was included in a feasibility study at the time. We took it to the board and made sure people were happy with that.

“There were meetings and people did visit the ground to have a look and do what they needed to appraise at that stage. That’s really where it is to be honest. That was in the context of 2030 rather than 2028.

“The same principles will apply. There is a process for us to go through in terms of formal permissions  and I don’t want to pre-empt any of that, Central Council will have its say there. We were aware of the ambitions and we certainly flagged from the outside that we’d be happy to explore the initial stages of those ambitions.”

With the Euros taking place during the summer when the inter-county season is underway, using Croke Park for soccer games provides obvious issues.

“We’re getting into speculating about things that might be two or three layers of further speculation afar,” said Ryan.

“I don’t really have a whole lot to add to that other than if the FAI want to take things to the next level with us in terms of talking about what it might look like, we’d be happy to do that.”

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Ryan also stated that the GAA remains committed to the redevelopment of Casement Park. The redevelopment of the Antrim GAA ground has been mired planning objections since its closure in 2013 and remains in a derelict state. 

“The things that are proving to be little obstacles are not things that we can directly control. It’s still mired in a process. We’re doing our best to navigate our way through that process.

“The one thing I can attest to is that our commitment to it is still the same. The shape of the project and the capacity and whatnot has evolved and changed over time.

“It’s a small bit smaller than it was at the outset but it’s still a project that is hugely valuable to the GAA, to the GAA nationally and to the GAA in Belfast so we’re still very committed to it.”

Finally, GAA finance director Ger Mulryan said it could take up to 15 years before the Association recovers from the financial impact of Covid. 

That’s despite the GAA receiving state support of around €50m over the last two years.

It was revealed yesterday that the estimated financial cost of the pandemic to the GAA amounted to over €25m.

“Traditionally our model was to almost redistribute everything we take in back through our organisation so the repair work entails trying to retain a small surplus annually so it could be five, 10, 15 years before we can replenish that €25m,” said Mulryan.

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