The GAA published its annual accounts for 2017 at Croke Park yesterday and they painted a healthy position on how the Association has managed its finances. Total revenues for the 12 months were up by almost ten percent to a record of €65.6 million.
That’s an increase of €5 million on the previous year and Finance Director Tom Ryan described that as “a positive and encouraging year.”
The main contributory factor was an increase of 24 percent in attendance at the All Ireland Championship series in the summer.
Dublin’s boost to numbers has become a regular feature with their three in a row wins but the Mayo Semi Final and Quarter Final Replays were also a major factor in drawing bigger crowds to the bigger games.
The average attendance at Championship matches over both codes rose to 22,000 this year, reversing a recent trend and was the main reason for total gate receipt income that climbed by €4 million on last year’s number to a total of €34.4 million.
“In terms of how we earned our €35 million in gate receipts and what that actually meant in terms of a return for the association as a whole, it’s always interesting to look at where we’re generating a return,” said Ryan.
“We had 350-odd matches over the course of this year and the lion’s share of the €35 million revenue is earned from eight to ten significant matches.
“In terms of the net income out of the 350-odd games that are played, there are only just over 40 that generates any kind of a return.
“So that, in turn, creates its own pressure. It means you’ve got to get everything right for those particular games at the tail-end of the season because they are the games that determined how you fare financially.
“The other 300-plus games are equally important but they’re not there to generate any money and are not judged by the amount of money they generate.
“That means you’ve got to make as much as you can from the ones that do generate a return to safeguard the future of those other competitions.”
The return to the top table of counties like Galway, Wexford and Waterford saw a surge in interest through the turnstiles for games in the All Ireland Hurling Championship Series.
The average attendance over the twelve games came to 29,075, 50 percent higher than for the more diversely spread Football Championship which drew 628,618 fans over 33 games.
The strength in the appeal of the Allianz Leagues was also marked by an increase in numbers, despite their not being semifinals in 2017.
Revenue from attendance at the Division One Football matches rose by 32 percent to €1.8 million.
The second biggest tranche of income was, as ever, generated by commercial activities, up to €18.7 million from last year’s €17.8 million.
The lions share of this came from an increase in media rights as part of the first year of a new five year agreement.
It remains a long way short of rights for international events like the Premier League or the Superbowl but media rights income rose from €11.5 million to €12.8 million in the year and presents a solid reliable return covering any given year.
Sponsorship income dipped in 2017 from €5.7 million to €5.2 million a factor we will explore in greater detail next week.
State funding, which accounts for the bulk of income across the majority of sports climbed in absolute terms from €3.6 million to €4.4 million, largely through the distribution of increased payments to player welfare schemes agreed between the GAA, Government and the Gaelic Players Association, but still accounts for only seven percent of total revenues.
The final major element of Association income was that derived from the commercial rent of Croke Park Stadium host concerts, conferences and business events.
Revenue and operating profits for the Stadium company are treated separately in the accounts as a separate company. They both rose three percent in the year climbing to €42.6 million and €10.8 million respectively and meant that Stadium Director Peter McKenna was able to announce the same grant to Croke Park as last year at €7.5 million.
Join us tomorrow as we look at how the expenditure of the GAA has changed from 2016 to 2017, at the continued steep rise in the money put towards preparing teams to play at the inter-county level and at a dip in the amount of money paid centrally to Dublin GAA.