Galway GAA and Supermac’s have been inextricably linked since the brand, owned by local business leader Pat McDonagh came on board as sponsor of the hurling team back in 1991. That extended to the football team in 2013 and Supermacs also backs Galway Women’s Football club and other sporting bodies across the county.
A statement issued by the company yesterday though will have sent shockwaves through the county as it seeks answers to questions being raised about finances.
It is inconceivable that this is the first point at which the County Board have been asked to provide an explanation of spending and for Supermac’s to go public suggests that the answers given to date have not been satisfactory.
“Following questions by the general public and delegates in relation to the Supermac’s sponsorship of Galway GAA, Supermac’s would like to detail that the amount of sponsorship given by Supermac’s to Galway GAA for the sponsored teams over the past 5 years to date is over €1.25m in direct payments plus over €340,000 in ancillary sponsorship,” said the statement.
It broke down the amounts over the past five years in detail with €200,000 given over in 2015, rising to €322,798 in 2018 and with €248,158 paid over to date in the current year.
The total amount of direct financial support over those five years amounts so far to €1,258,256 with a further €341,170 worth of ancillary support, deemed as schools, club and other fundraising support.
“Supermac’s would like to seek clarification from the Galway County Board as to how this money was spent. Specifically, have the players and management benefitted or has the county board benefitted?”, the statement continued.
“Supermac’s raised financial concerns with the Galway County Board 4 years ago.”
“Supermac’s understands that two investigations have taken place into the finances of Galway GAA; One conducted by Galway GAA and a second conducted by Mazars. Supermac’s is calling for these investigations to be made public immediately.”
“The vast majority of the Galway GAA public and mentors, who give their time voluntarily for the promotion and administration of our games and the welfare of our players, deserve no less.”
There is a seeming genuine anger in the choice of phrasing towards the end of the statement. The demand that the reports be published immediately leaves little wriggle room and the calling together of the voluntary nature of of those behind the scenes is also clear in its intent.
The partnership between the County Board and Supermac’s was extended in 2018 for another five years and is scheduled to run through until 2022.
We imagine that as part of that, there were certain undertakings made in relation to transparency which have clearly not yet been met to the satisfaction of McDonagh and the Supermac’s team.
It is not only Galway that face a threat to their immediate funding.
Mayo GAA are in discussion with the Mayo GAA International Supporters Federation over issues surrounding governance and a sum of €250,000 is reported to be being witheld from a major fundraiser in New York, where Mayo opened up their Connaught Championship campaign this year.
It is only right and proper that any recipient of funding should be able to clearly define where and how the money in question was spent, ideally as part of the initial negotiation and then backed up on request after the event.
When gaps appear in accounts and questions are raised by delegates to county conventions there should be a swift response detailing exactly where any problems may have arisen.
Supporters and financial backers are generally understanding once an attempt at explanation is made, and then backed up.
There are clearly issues on both fronts at Galway and Mayo. They need to be addressed quickly if two invaluable sources of funding are not to disappear in a blaze of anger.