Galway treasurer Mike Burke believes counties with attractive club championships will want the inter-county season staged first this year.
As another delay to the start of the 2021 calendar prompts speculation the GAA will redraw the season so that clubs go first, Burke is hoping Croke Park sticks with its original decision to commence with the Allianz Leagues and Championship.
In 2019, Galway GAA reaped over €1m in gate receipts. Even if there are spectators allowed this year, they are highly unlikely to repeat that figure but the later the championships are run the more opportunity they are likely to have of crowds being allowed to attend.
“From a Galway point of view, it’s a plus for a county like us to have county first and club second because in 2019 we took in a million euro from the gates. We were looking forward to something similar last year and it didn’t happen but we’d still hold out hope we will this year. Any county with serious club championships would.
“It’s a major form of our income so the later our club championships start and there is more chance of crowds, the better. If it were to start in June or July, it would be a negative because you’re just not going to have crowds.
“To offset that, we took in almost €300,000 in streaming last year but there’s a fair difference between that and a million, obviously.”
Right now, inter-county preparation costs are at a minimum as collective training remains suspended indefinitely. When it resumes, boards will have to finding new means of funding it, says Burke.
“I would expect this year to be similar to last year in that Croke Park will pay the expenses of the players and the backroom teams are left up to us. We’re lucky in Galway because we’ve a fair amount from commercial sponsorship and a good system in place.
“At the same time, we will be proactive from May as regards fundraising. We have set our targets higher in that area this year than we have ever done before.
“If we have competitions we are still going to have a lot of expenditure. We have no National League money coming back because there are no crowds. Season tickets have provided significant revenue for larger counties but there will be none of that either. So at this point to keep heads above water counties are going to have to fundraise more than before. That’s not Galway alone - that’s every county.
“You’re going to have to think outside the box because the likelihood is while you might have golf classics or draws you won’t have days to fundraise at the Galway Races.”
For now, wages and loans have to be paid and stadia maintained. “Upkeep of county grounds continues and in Galway we have five of them,” explains the Kinvara restauranteur.
“They’re not being used but they have to be maintained. It’s like my (Pier Head) restaurant - it’s closed but there are still expenses.”