Members of the Federation of Irish Sport gathered yesterday at Irish Sport HQ at the National Sports Campus to hear details of the Pre-Budget Submission made to Government on behalf of the Sports sector.

The submission was covered on Sport for Business last month with the detail of the four key asks being made of Government in next week’s budget outlined here.

Each of the asks is backed up by strong research and analysis from A&L Goodbody and Jim Power economics.

Yesterday was less about the technical arguments and more about a passionate plea as to why the extra money is needed.

“Sport is facing a crisis in employment,” said Swim ireland CEO Sarah Keane.

“We are being given money for programmes and facilities but without a significant increase in core funding we cannot retain the quality staff needed to make them happen.”

97,000 cases of chronic disease were prevented by physical activity last year, saving the Health service over €400 million and yet the Core funding given to the entire sporting ecosystem was less than 1/25th of that.

There is a clear case for investment bringing scalable savings to what is by far the Government’s largest funding outlay but there remains a disconnect between the two.

Last year’s 6.7 increase in core funding was wiped out by a 6.2 rise in costs through inflation and the industry is leaking staff towards Government agencies where there are better terms, pensions and health insurance.

In addition to the main Ask relating to Core Funding, the other priorities for the sector include Taxation Reform under Action 3.7 of the National Sports Policy, Raising the Betting Levy from 2% to 3% and an Acceleration of Insurance Reform.

“As we head into a significant time for many sports which in effect is a home Olympics with Paris 2024, it’s key to invest in core funding in sport to embrace and underpin the investment in high performance sport through supporting our clubs and legacies,” said Michelle Carpenter, CEO of Rowing ireland.

“We have incredible ambassadors that will empower and encourage a nation and we need the tools now to maximise on this.”

“Despite the incredibly valuable role sport plays in the health and wellbeing of Irish people, and the growth in participation that successive governments have targeted, the funding necessary to help people lead healthier lives through sport is struggling to keep pace in line with inflation and associated costs of doing business,” added Enda Lynch, CEO of Badminton Ireland.

“Staff on one-year contracts, without pensions or health insurance, is not sustainable – and without the brilliant people currently working in sport, we simply won’t succeed. An increase in core funding that is reflective of NGB’s looking to do the best for their staff is critical.”

“It is important that Government do not take sport and physical activity for granted in budget 2024 and continues its commitment to the sector by increasing core funding and recognising the significant role sport and physical activity plays throughout Ireland from grass sports to high performance,” concluded Federation of Irish Sport CEO Mary O’Connor.

The 2024 Budget will be published next Tuesday, October 10th, and will be covered in detail as regards the sport and physical activity elements on Sport for Business.