CORK GAA will ultimately be responsible for the major overrun on the redevelopment of Páirc Uí Chaoimh, according to GAA Director General Tom Ryan and he did not rule out levies being imposed on clubs.
Although no final cost has yet been confirmed and Ryan, in his first annual report, said that the €110 million figure mentioned by Croke Park commercial director Peter McKenna in the Irish Examiner last month was the worst case scenario. Regardless the total bill and debt will be significantly more than envisaged when the new Páirc was greenlit.
By means of heading up the newly-formed Páirc Uí Chaoimh committee as well as helping to restructure debt and short-term funding, Croke Park has lent a helping hand to ensure that the impact is not as great on Cork GAA and its clubs.
Yet clubs on Leeside could still have to subsidise the massive overspend.
“That is one for Cork to manage really. Some counties don’t do that in order to fund their grounds and stadiums.
“It is one for Cork to determine how best they manage it.”
The Director General would not be drawn on what aspect of the Páirc controversy disappointed him but stated that the financial projections for the stadium were ‘overly ambitious’.
It had been Cork and the GAA’s intention for the venue rebuild to be a debt-free project and he was keen to take collective responsibility for the oversight.
“The target was to do it without any debt at the end. I’d say you could probably count on the fingers of one hand even the numbers of club projects that are able to achieve that.
“Almost inevitably we were going to meet some debt to fund the Cork project so it’s not a unique outcome and it’s not insurmountable.’’
Meanwhile, in his very comprehensive and detailed report, Ryan said that the association felt “bullied” into hosting the Liam Miller tribute match at the Cork GAA headquarters.
“I don’t think any of us were enthusiastic about the outcome we reached. The overwhelming sentiment being that we felt bullied into a course of action that we might well have taken anyway if given the chance.
“In hindsight, we might have handled matters differently but I do believe that the GAA was very badly served at the time.
“It consumed so much energy and time and yet was not an issue of our making.’’
Without naming names, he took great exception to comments like those of Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross who intimated because redeveloped GAA stadia are publicly funded they should be made available to other sports.
“Any funding we receive is and should continue to be, predicated solely on the intrinsic value of Gaelic Games.
“I am not aware of any other sporting organisation being assessed on the degree to which it promotes rival sports. And nor should they be.’’