In one fell swoop, Mayo County Board has voted to save itself outgoings of €246,609 over the next twelve months, after delegates accepted an offer from the GAA’s National Finance Committee to reduce the board’s monthly repayments on its MacHale Park redevelopment loan.
Mayo GAA has been paying Croke Park in the region of €34,000 per month since 2015, when the national organisation took over the entire redevelopment debt of €10million.
Mayo GAA now owes €7.956m and its monthly repayments equate to €409,000 annually. However, following negotiations between executive officers of Mayo County Board and the National Finance Committee, the latter have agreed — for the next year, at least — to accept a monthly repayment equal to what it would take 50 years to pay the total amount in full.
“We explained our position and the challenges in running an operation such as this, and particularly about the stress that the cash flow situation creates,” Mayo GAA chairman Liam Moffatt explained to club delegates at their monthly meeting.
“There’s always a challenge between debt management and team preparation. You want your teams to have everything that they can but you’re also mindful of the fact that the asset has to be paid for too.”
Moffatt brought a proposal to last week’s (November 23) County Board meeting in MacHale Park that for one year, the monthly loan repayment be restructured from €34,100 per month to €20,552. The annual repayment of €246,609 as opposed to €409,000 represents a 40 per cent difference.
At the end of the twelve months, a review of Mayo GAA’s position with the NFC would determine whether the 1.9% interest rate would be offered over 50-years or a shorter period.
To pay off €7,956m in 20 years would set Mayo County Board back almost €40,000 per month, just over €30k per month if paying back over 30 years, €26k over 35 years and €23k per month over 40 years.
Last year, Mayo GAA’s repayments reduced to €5,000 per month as it essentially received a moratorium on account of its lack of turnover during the Covid-19 pandemic. The repayments didn’t even cover the interest on the loan.
“It represents a very significant move by Croke Park and is recognition of the problems that Liam and other people have spoken about to Croke Park in relation to the cost of the stadium here,” said Mayo GAA’s assistant treasurer Michael Diskin.
“This is probably the first time that we have seen movement from Croke Park in terms of giving some relief on the loan. It would be a no-brainer to go ahead with it now.”
Diskin is currently awaiting costings on repair works and improvements that are required at MacHale Park arising from a recent health and safety report.
If, after twelve months, Croke Park decides to offer the €20,552 monthly repayment over 50 years, it would still be up to Mayo GAA’s delegates to accept or reject that, with some concern expressed about the cost associated with pushing back the final payment. According to Liam Moffatt, such an extension could see the total amount paid back between now and then rise from €7.956m to around €10.6m.
“There is a need for an operational plan that starts to generate income out of the stadium in addition to games, and we’re trying to get to that point,” said Moffatt in response to an observation from Lahardane delegate Enda Coyne that MacHale Park had lost concerts to Pearse Stadium in Galway, Páirc Uí Chaoimh in Cork and Kilkenny’s Nowlan Park.
“Why can’t we have a piece of the action?” asked Coyne.
Mayo Gaels delegate Dermot Flaherty commended the County Board officers for their work in negotiating the new terms with Croke Park.
“I think it’s a huge vote of confidence in the way you have got our house in order financially,” he said prior to the proposal being passed.