Monday 16 September 2019

Finances on the up

Crisis of five years ago well and truly over

Brendan Furlong

What was a crisis five years ago has led to an amazing turnaround in Wexford G.A.A. finances as County Chairman, Diarmuid Devereux, will report a net surplus of €260,084 to Convention delegates when they assemble in the Ferrycarrig Hotel on Monday night.

Devereux will be relinquishing his post as Chairman, having completed five hugely successful years at the helm of G.A.A. affairs in the county.

However, when he took up office five years ago he brought startling financial revelations before a special County Board meeting attended by club Chairmen and Secretaries, members of Club Wexford and the G.A.A. Supporters' Club, along with representatives of the Dublin branch.

The then full extent of the financial crisis was laid bare by the county Chairman which sent out a chilling message to a startled attendance, clearly dumbfounded at what was unveiled.

Five years ago Wexford G.A.A. was left with a debt mountain of €3m approximately, a figure that included expenditure on the Ferns Centre of Excellence along with the outstanding debt on Wexford Park, a loan that had been due for completion, but which had been extended by the previous administration, while the Glenbrien land legacy has also since disappeared.

There was alarm and concern expressed by the delegates when they were informed that Wexford County Board was living off its creditors, who were being left unpaid.

Under-21 players' expenses had been utilised to pay creditors, while a High Court settlement had been reached on the morning of the meeting relating to a breach of contract on the Ferns land transaction.

On Monday night delegates will be startled at the transformation of the financial affairs of the county.

The accounts will show an operating surplus of €260,084, a figure achieved without any grants being received.

Current liabilities also show a dramatic turnaround with a decrease of €387,898, from €890,722 in 2015 to a current figure of €502,824. The net current liabilities figure stands at €222,863, down from €350,286.

A major impact has also been made on long-term liabilities, down from €1,505,927 to a current figure of €1,346,736. The Ferns Centre of Excellence has been managed wisely finance-wise, while the Wexford Park loan has been cleared.

A figure included in the current liabilities is that of €146,320 which is the 2017 payment of the Ferns Centre of Excellence bank loan which is not due for payment until next October.

Given the net liabilities of €222,863 minus the 2017 Ferns bank loan, it would leave the figure standing at €76,548, indicating that should the current financial trend continue along the same road, Wexford G.A.A. could be debt-free by year end 2017.

On the Income side, there is an increase of €245,887, from €2,333,094 in 2015 to €2,578,981 this year.

Wexford have also bucked the national trend since gate receipts have shown an increase of €71,000-plus, increasing from €402,992 in 2015 to €473,858 this year.

The returning boost in the economy is also shown in the accounts, with commercial income standing at €334,270, down from €352,755, which can be explained in the commercial detail as last year included a once-off payment towards the completion of the Ferns Centre of Excellence.

The Model County draw also benefited from the surge in the economy, showing an increase of some €40,000 from €205,191 in 2015 to €245,026 this year.

Unlike the majority of counties, the spend on inter-county teams has been dramatically reduced by €110,975 from €806,866 in 2015 to a current figure of €695,891. Summer camp income increased from €216,069 to €275,499.

Wexford also benefitted from the change of fixture to accommodate the Bruce Springsteen concert in Croke Park, as following representations from the County Chairman, the Leinster Council contributed some €10,000 to the county's finances by way of compensation.

The importance of the National League from a financial perspective can also be seen in the accounts, with a fall-off of some €12,000 in the Wexford return from the National Hurling League, dropping from €43,693 in 2015 to €31,676 this year. An interesting statistic is that the return from the National Football League was greater by some €8,000, realising €39,676 in the current year compared to €28,838 last year.

Under teams expenses, players' travelling expenses decreased by €55,000 approximately, from €205,644 in 2015 to €150,638 this year, while there was also a drop of some €15,000 under catering, hotels and overnights, from €147,375 to €132,830. Sports gear and equipment also dropped considerably from €112,705 to €88,648.

Wexford People

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