Tuesday 20 August 2019

Lack of finance has put plans to finish Ferns centre on hold

Brendan Furlong
Brendan Furlong

Brendan Furlong's Hop Ball

While the G.A.A. are endeavouring to tackle the issue of county funding, Wexford continue to struggle with its finances despite having enjoyed a €250,000 surplus at the end of 2016.

It was quite alarming to hear that the financial strain of the Ferns Centre of Excellence has once again surfaced, when it appeared as if the bad old days had been left behind.

When Diarmuid Devereux assumed office more than five years ago, he highlighted the financial ruin in which Wexford G.A.A. found itself. The finances of the county were presented in a sorry light, as the Board struggled to even meet its day-to-day expenses, given the picture presented some five years back.

It was more than a tricky position in which he found the county's finances, but he somehow managed to steer a tight ship through those five years until he retired last December, having completed his five-year term as County Chairman.

This tightening of the finances, plus increased sponsorship, led to the paying off of the Wexford Park development debt and the paying of debts overdue, while also undertaking the development of the Ferns Centre of Excellence which is now practically complete.

But now it appears as if the financial struggle has returned given the bleak picture painted by County Development Officer, Cathal Byrne, regarding the completion of the clubhouse at the Ferns Centre of Excellence, as he starkly states the county hasn't the finances to complete the second floor of the clubhouse, and this despite a €200,000 sports grant being available.

However, Wexford G.A.A. are caught in a catch 22 situation as the sports grant cannot be drawn down until the work has commenced or is practically completed, but with no finances to back this project, alarmingly the clubhouse may not be completed or undertaken even for another six months.

Wexford G.A.A. officers had hoped to have the project complete for the national Féile which has come and gone, while they also outlined to delegates a wait on the issuing of the fire certificate, but now it has come down to finances, as finally revealed by the County Development Officer. Obviously, Wexford are now finding finances a struggle, as they now have to put the completion of the Ferns Centre of Excellence clubhouse on the back burner for at least a further six months, mainly due to the lack of finances, with the County Development Officer having painted a bleak picture. 'We are ready to start the works, but do not have the money to pay employees,' was the message issued by Byrne, who added, 'there is no money available to secure bridging finance'. This once again raises the pitcure of games development grants issued by Croke Park. In 2016 Dublin received €1.46m of the total figure of €10.14m that the G.A.A. distributed to counties, with Wexford 16th in the table on €155,800.

This is coupled with the increase in the cost of preparation of inter-county teams as Wexford spent some €806,373 in preparation of county teams in 2016, a figure that is expected to increase this year. While inter-county players scored a massive new funding of €6.9m over three years, clubs and counties continue to struggle financially. As with previous agreements, Sports Ireland will provide the funding to the G.A.A. who will then work with the Gaelic Players' Association for the appropriate disimbursement of the money to the players. But this will do little to ease the strain on Wexford finances which would enable them to complete the Ferns Centre of Excellence clubhouse.

It once again calls into question a county's ability to continue funding such a huge spend on inter-county teams, particularly the dual county, and yet will be in a position to meet its day-to-day commitments.

But despite the precarious position in which Wexford G.A.A. finds itself, with a lack of funding to complete the Ferns Centre of Excellence clubhouse, as well as the position of inter-county Senior managers, Davy Fitzgerald and Seamus 'Banty' McEnaney, along with the vacant posts through all other grades, no County Board meeting has been called to enlighten clubs on the current situation in which the county finds itself. Clubs, through the medium of this newpaper, will for the first time hear the main reason as to why the Ferns Centre of Excellence clubhouse cannot be completed - lack of finance.

Wexford People

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