It was a big day for Irish sport yesterday with €85 million of government funding for Irish sport announced by Sport Ireland.
On the Sport for Business Daily, we were joined by Paul McDermott, Director of High Performance and National Governing Bodies at Sport Ireland to get under the hood of how the allocations were determined and the impact they are likely to have across the sporting spectrum. Watch back the interview above or read it below.
Sport for Business: Can you give us a little insight into how the process took place from the original announcement in June up to today?
Paul McDermott: It is a good day, though only in the sense that none of us would like to be in this position.
We had to respond to a unique threat to the Irish economy, society and sport. We went into lockdown in March and Sport Ireland had a number of key priorities working with partners. First, we wanted to make sure we could get sport back safely at the appropriate time. Second, we wanted to ensure that high-performance athletes could get back to training either at the Campus or at their training venue of choice. The third was to make a proposition to Governmnetfor a financial package that would sustain sport through the period.
It was a collective agreement to come to a number using a lot of data which we have.
The major commercial sports were going to take a hit on attendance, sponsorship and other event revenues. The wider sporting network was also seeing a cessation of activity and the wider club network also had nothing coming in the door.
A figure of €70 million began to emerge and we set about ensuring that individual sport could put their case for alleviating the cash cliff that was evident.
We set a deadline of September to make it happen after the October Sport Ireland Board meeting.
We were keen to talk to organisations throughout, to assist them in putting forward their case.
It’s important to say that sport doesn’t fix every problem but it’s not the only thing. In this particular moment though where there was a real risk, it was important.
SfB: The main sports get the bulk of the money but there is a good spread across all the sports. Did everyone get what they wanted?
PMcD: We hope so. It was a complex design with four streams and then Gaelic Games getting money towards the Championship making a fifth.
In addition, we have held back money for other needs that may arise in the current lockdown. It gave a great degree of confidence that money was there.
A number of bodies have taken a very responsible attitude. They only applied for money they would forego in 2020 and others have said that their issues will be more for 2021.
This was about keeping the doors open. We are always willing to listen as needs arise.
SfB: When the planning took place there was a greater level of confidence that we were through the worst. The budget has increased already for core funding in ’21 but is there scope for more should the impact extend longer than we might hope?
PMcD: We’re dealing with today for now. The initial crisis was that the lights went out. Nobody knows for sure how this will work its way through but it will pass. One of the lessons we learned or confirmed is that by and large sports were well managed. They had reserved and were able to manage the challenges well, even under the greatest of pressure.
SfB: There was no application from Olympic or Paralympic Sport?
PMcD: They made a mature decision that their challenges were going to be in 2021. The last year of one cycle and doubling up as the first of another will be challenging. A number of others from Local Sports Partnerships and other governing bodies decided to hold back and that was a big help in getting the money to where it was needed most for now.
SfB: The funding is extensive and it is substantial. You can see the breakdown across the Sport for Business website this morning. Sport Ireland and indeed the Government has provided a strong shoulder for sport to lean on. This is the evidence.
Sport for Business Partners