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Finance Becoming A Huge Issue For Many Clubs.
There is a lot of concern among GAA members at the level of debt many clubs now find themselves in. This was an area that provoked lots of debate and discussion at last week’s Ulster GAA conference and is an issue that is bound to occupy the minds of many club officers as the season of Annual General Meetings gets underway. Finance and fund raising have always been core issues for clubs and now even more so. Over the past few years with the massive developments that some clubs have undergone budgets and expenditure have rocketed. In some cases costs have spiralled way beyond what was initially anticipated and with reduced revenue streams the banks are putting clubs under increased pressure.
While things were going well with the economy there did not seem to be a problem and most clubs believed that there would always be enough sponsors and wealthy benefactors around to pick up the bills.
Unfortunately that situation no longer exists and the present squeeze that is being put on public expenditure is already having a serious effect on some clubs. Money is becoming even tighter and this year when club delegates turn their attention to electing a new committee for 2011 they could find themselves in a very difficult position. When faced with the realisation that their beloved club faces years of debt and heavy interest charges they will have to decide on what is the best way forward for the club. Will the status quo be maintained or will the club elect fresh faces with new ideas as they seek to deal with the mountain of debt? There is sure to be some fireworks and tough decisions made in clubs up and down the country over the next few weeks.
One thing is for sure, however, that GAA clubs for years have shown themselves to be highly skilled at finding ways to raise revenue. The “Cairde Club” idea has certainly become increasingly popular and while I am quite a fan of that, I feel that there should always be some sort of incentive or reward for those who are willing to put their hands into their pockets and hand over their hard earned cash. Indeed in these changing and difficult times I believe that incentives are the best way to motivate people to do anything and the clubs or club officers who can manage to motivate their members to go the extra mile are the ones who should be trusted to bring the clubs forward. Creative thinking will be the order of the day from now on for clubs wishing to fund large scale projects or deal with defecits. Without this “outside the box” thinking we could well see the situation where some clubs become insolvent and may cease to exist due to the lack of an understanding bank manager or a forward thinking committee. All the more reason therefore that club members get along to their AGM, they vote wisely and then roll up their sleeves and give generously of their time to ensure that their club continues to exist and eventually prospers.