Cork County board to repay €1.2m for Pairc cash flow issue

Cork County board to repay €1.2m for Pairc cash flow issue
Marc Sheehan, Vice Chairperson, Tracey Kennedy, Chairperson Cork County Board and Kevin O'Donovan, CEO/Secretary.Picture: Jim Coughlan

THE Cork County Board owes €1.2m to Central Council arising from a Páirc Uí Chaoimh cash flow problem dating back to 2017.

At Tuesday night’s Cork County Board meeting, secretary Kevin O’Donovan informed delegates that the executive has agreed repayments to Central Council for money that should have been handed over three years ago.

Prior to Croke Park stepping in and taking over the running of Páirc Uí Chaoimh, a cash flow issue arose which led to €1.2m of Cork County Board money, owed to Central Council, being redirected towards the stadium redevelopment.

The stadium, such is its troubled financial position, has not been able to repay the money to the county board. 

And so while the board will now meet its outstanding debt to Central Council, there is no timeline as to when the board will be reimbursed by Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

“In 2017, a cash flow issue arose in relation to the construction costs of the stadium, [this was] prior to our later funding agreement with Croke Park which is called the framework agreement. 

"€1.2m of county board payments due to Central Council were used as a cash flow measure, with the agreement of Croke Park,” O’Donovan revealed.

“It was anticipated that this money would come back to the county board, and then to Central Council in the short-term when stadium funding streams allowed. 

"But as time went on and the funding shortfall for the stadium increased, it became apparent that the repayment to Cork county board from the stadium would not materialise, even in the medium term, and the money would remain due to Central Council, and was provided for in the county board accounts.

“Our executive has recently decided that this money should be paid back to Central Council, in agreed instalments commencing this year, with the money then to be paid back from Páirc Uí Chaoimh to Cork GAA in the fullness of time. We all know the challenges the stadium faces now. 

"That money will come back at a future date when other debts are settled.

“We feel this is an important measure in reestablishing our position to pay money that is due to Central Council.”

The Cork County Board incurred a deficit of €559,000 for 2019, while the separate company accounts of Páirc Uí Chaoimh and Staid Cois Laoi show that the stadium, up to October 31, 2018, recorded losses of €467,000. 

County chairperson Tracey Kennedy said at December’s convention that Páirc Uí Chaoimh will not be profitable “any time soon”.

In a bid to bring Páirc Uí Chaoimh back under the control of Cork GAA, O’Donovan said there will be a restructuring of “fundraising processes” to increase revenue streams feeding into the board.

“We have [made] strenuous attempts in recent times to stop the separation of Páirc Uí Chaoimh and Cork GAA. 

"I don’t see the Páirc Uí Chaoimh debt in one box and our own losses of €560,000 in some other box. To me, it is Cork GAA; one big problem. In order to pull it together, we are working on proposals.

“There is huge goodwill out there, huge avenues for the stadium to raise funds, through premium seats, naming rights. 

"There is huge avenues for Cork GAA, through sponsorship of our competitions, our club draw, and season tickets.

“We are looking at a fundraising structure that will incorporate everything and report to this board, so no loss of autonomy. 

"Parallel to that will be a combined business plan so Cork GAA and Páirc Uí Chaoimh will be on a common footing in the future with regard to the nitty gritty of how we are going to raise these funds and where it is going to go in the future.” 

The board also agreed a €150 season ticket which will allow patrons access to all Cork club games in a particular year, as well as being guaranteed the right to purchase an All-Ireland final ticket should either Cork team reach the decider. 

A further fundraising measure agreed last night is that the once free county board pass, which all delegates are entitled to, will now come at a cost of €50.

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