20 May 2022

Derry County Board move to dismiss media reports of an unhealthy financial position

Derry GAA is on an extremely solid financial footing: Barker

Derry County Board move to dismiss media reports of an unhealthy financial position

Derry Chairman Stephen Barker dismissed media reports of an unhealthy financial position

Derry GAA have moved to dismiss recent media reports claiming they are in an unhealthy financial position.

In an article for last week's Sunday Independent, former Derry player and GAA pundit Joe Brolly stated the Oakleaf board had borrowed a £300k 'Covid bounce-back loan' and the county were currently £200k in debt.

In the article, in which Brolly quoted former All-Ireland winning teammates Kieran McKeever (current Derry Vice Chairman) and Fergal P McCusker, who is part of Derry's Finance Committee, he said the board were having 'serious discussions' about the feasibility of entering the senior team in the 2021 championship.

However, Derry GAA county board chairman Stephen Barker yesterday said: “The simple facts are: Derry GAA is on an extremely solid financial footing.”

Barker said that any talk of not entering a senior team in next year's championship was 'completely farcical'.

“We are not in debt and any reports which suggest otherwise are completely false,” read a county board statement released yesterday.

“Unfortunately, these baseless reports about our financial position are causing serious concern among our members and supporters. It is within this context that we feel it’s necessary to address these unhelpful reports by presenting the facts.”

The statement also had an extract from Treasurer Martin Devlin, saying that Derry GAA will have capital assets of £6m by the end of this financial year, with 'no outstanding debt'.

Devlin outlined that the county's accounts are annually audited.

Derry GAA took out a capital loan of £650k in 2013 to finalise the development of Owenbeg. Both Owenbeg's stadium pitch and Celtic Park have had renovation work done on the playing surfaces during lockdown.

The venues were in a poor state during the NFL/NHL campaigns and subject to pitch inspections. Celtic Park is due to host three games in this weekend's championship schedule and the senior hurling final is set for the city venue later this month.

“At this time, 4% of that loan remains and the monies have already been set aside to complete that payment schedule within the next three months,” Devlin stated.

As part of this season's championship, the group games were played on a home, away and neutral basis, with a total of 'approximately £70k' in gate receipts. Clubs were promised all the money from their home championship games.

“We generated approximately £70k in gate receipts from the group stages and the county board has taken the decision to redistribute that money back to the clubs.

“This should help to alleviate some of the financial pressure felt by our clubs due to the Covid-19 situation,” Barker points out.

"We are also planning ahead and have secured an additional facility of up to £300k, if required, in line with our strategic plan. At this time, and with current interest rates due to Covid-19, this just makes solid business sense.

“Derry people are fanatical about the GAA and we are aware that these false reports are causing a lot of concern. We want to allay those fears because we are incredibly well served by our members and our loyal sponsors.

“We have revealed these financial figures and released this statement because we want to put all this nonsense to rest.”

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