At sponsor renewal
THE importance of sponsorship to the Cork County GAA Board was emphatically stressed by secretary Frank Murphy at the renewal of the association with its main sponsor, Chill Insurance.
In an exclusive interview with John Horgan, Mr Murphy outlined that importance and how satisfied they are with their association with the insurance company.
“We are announcing the continuation of the Chill Sponsorship, as you know they have been county sponsors now for the last six years and they are extending it for two years with a right of renewal at the end of that and we are delighted with that.
“They have been very generous to our teams for the period of the sponsorship. We have had very good sponsors over the years and before Chill we had Esat Digiphone/O2 and before that Barry’s Tea.
“Barry’s Tea led the way for us in that regard and I would have to pay tribute to Michael O’Sullivan the MD of Barry’s Tea at the time and the late Peter Barry was very supportive to the GAA in Cork.
“Even after they had finished their involvement as county sponsors they still supported the county very well.’’
Apart from the very generous sponsorship of Chill, Mr Murphy also singled out the contribution of others.
“We have other partners like O’Neill ’s with whom we have a gear contract and we have just completed a four-year contract with them in relation to the supply of gear and also replica jerseys and merchandise.
“So that is in tandem with the Chill sponsorship and we have a renewed sponsorship with Heineken which started last year as supporters of our senior teams, not our underage.
“At the present time, we are also involved in negotiations with another partner in relation to our senior teams.
“So, overall the combined sponsorship is quite significant. It’s working in at around the €700,000 mark and increasing next year to around threequarters of a million per annum.”
Queried on developments regarding the naming rights for the new Páirc Uí Chaoimh, the county secretary revealed that it was an ongoing process.
“There is work being done in that field, professionally being done. It’s as simple as this, it’s easy enough to get a naming rights sponsor but it is how much are they prepared to pay.
“Certainly we would not be pre- pared to have it go as an addendum to the name of Páirc Uí Chaoimh if the finance was not substantial.
“So it is an ongoing process and it’s being worked on professionally in that area.’’
Mr Murphy went on to reveal that the financial demands on the county board in its preparation of teams continues to rise all the time.
“Sponsorship is vital and you would be aware that our costs at inter-county level last year was €1.75m.
“And it must be borne in mind that is essentially a cost in terms of essentially expenses mainly and also of course medical expenses, treatment for our players and other facilities that are provided.
“But it is important to stress that our managers, selectors, our coaches, doctors, are only on expenses, they are not paid any fee.
“You do have the physios and other professional consultants who have a fee and that is negotiated with them. Essentially we maintain an amateur position in relation to our team managements.”
He stressed too that the general public might have a false picture of where the substantial monies that are generated by the association go.
“Very often people think about the fact that the millions that are made at Munster championships and the AllIreland series but a county does not receive any percentage of the gate receipts of the game it plays in.
“You are paid travelling expenses and meal expenses or if it was a distance away where you’d get an overnight.
“In effect, the allowances that are paid by Central Council and Munster Council don’t actually meet the actual cost on the day of hotel expenses.
“An example, we had a good year in 2017 in terms of our senior hurlers being in the All-Ireland semi-final, our minor team in the final and our under-17s winning the All -Ireland.
“Yet our total inter-county expenses and grants from Central Council for the year amounted to only €71,000.
“In the case of Munster, it was €72,000. Now, albeit, counties do get an allowance, last year in our case it was €175,000 in respect of gear, senior championship sponsorship, media rights but if you combine all of that and you do get a percentage of the national league games that you play.
“The league amounted to €152, 000 last year which was equivalent to what we received by way of expenses and grants from championship games.
“So combining the national league and combining the expenses and the grant that was made to the county for the championship and gear and media rights, the total was about €470,000 as against an expenditure of €1.75m.
“In that area it is so crucial that you have good sponsorship and as I said that should be in the region 700, 750,000 but there is still a gap of nearly 500,00 there.”
Mr Murphy outlined that the receipts from county championship games were very encouraging.
“You could say that they were exceptional, the highest by far in the country. Last year we were close on €1.2 million and that is a great deal of credit to our supporters to provide that type of revenue.
”We haven’t really increased our prices for championship games for 12 years but we are making some adjustments for the concluding stages now.
“There is an instruction from Central Council to all counties now that there are minimum charges now for county finals and we have made adjustments but we haven’t done so for 12 years.
“Nonetheless, it is fair to say that we are, by far, the most successful county in terms of our county championships.”
He also went on to outline how important the county board draw was to the association in Cork.
“Our draw committee under Pearse Murphy generated something in the region of a net profit of a quarter of a million a year. Over the time of that draw, the clubs have benefited to the tune of €20m and the board six million and the board pays for all the draw expenses and administration.
“It’s now run by a voluntary committee under Pearse and they are doing a fantastic job and again a great deal of thanks to our supporters for their generosity in maintaining one of the most successful ventures in the country.
“We still maintain a 16,000-plus membership which is huge.
“There is an awful lot of money too being put in to our coaching and development squads and games development generally.
“In the last two years it has almost been nearly a million and it is climbing.
“That has to be financed and we use the money that we get from the draw and money from our county championships to try and meet the debt that arises from the expenditure on inter-county because the intercounty revenue does not meet all the commitments that are there.
“It is a challenge undoubtedly but it again puts into perspective the importance of good sponsors and we again express our appreciation to Chill for their decision to continue.’’
The construction of the new stadium is something that he is immensely proud of too. “Undoubtedly, we did manage to raise very substantial money there is still money to be paid off and that is being dealt with separately from the county board.
“Hopefully, the stadium will be in a position to generate funds that can be put back into the county in terms of promotion of the games. That is ultimately the objective but not until such time as the stadium gets on its feet and widely used.
“We had three very successful concerts there this year and we have one coming up with Rod Stewart next year.
“As of now and it was contracted on the basis of one day but we are actively in negotiation for further concerts in 2019 and we are anticipating that we will be successful.’
’ He was optimistic too on the playing front where the county is concerned on the hurling front.
“We are moving in a positive direction undoubtedly and I think there is potential with the hurling panel with the younger players coming through.
“We were unfortunate with some injuries to key players last year that were detrimental and if we get a clean bill of health I think we’ll challenge very seriously for All-Ireland honours.
“I believe next season can be productive and we feel the material that is coming through, we should have a very good minor team next year and our under-20s will be the minor team that was in the All-Ireland final against Galway. The platform is there, yes.’’
Cork County Board secretary Frank Murphy says inter-county level costs were €1.75m last year.