Inflationary Matters: The cost of our teams

Brian Flannery Reports
As we enter another New Year it is becoming increasingly obvious to me how dependant I’ve become on technology. Google this and google that, iPad and IPhone, twitter, online shopping, online banking, app this and app that. If something isn’t on google it obviously just doesn’t exist. It’s a bit like football, apparently only invented in 1992 by Sky Sports. How did we ever manage before the World Wide Web?
Watching television on a TV seems now to be some sort of quaint idea. Have you this Netflix thing?
Have you spent a whole weekend watching ‘Peaky Blinders’ yet? No? Me neither but am reliably informed by those more in tune with popular culture that its’ all the go these days.

Do people still have copies of those multi-volume sets of Encyclopaedias, gathering dust on the bookshelf I’d bet. Also good as door stoppers.
In an effort to declutter my digital life I started deleting emails from my Inbox. Years of dross remained available. Do I really need to keep a copy of the 2012 county convention booklet?
Probably not but I’m a devil for hording and before I attempted to push the delete button curiosity got the better of me and I stated to read it again. The format is still pretty much the same as this years’ version with a lot of the same themes remaining.

The Waterford senior hurling squad on All-Ireland Day.  The cost of Senior Hurling Team for 2017 was €602,897

The Waterford senior hurling squad on All-Ireland Day. The cost of Senior Hurling Team for 2017 was €602,897


Most club members’ pay has only a glancing interest in their own Annual Accounts but a couple of figures are usually subjected to a bit of scrutiny, namely the cost of running the senior team and the amount paid on physio. The comparison with the previous year is easy with both figures side by side with any substantial increase requiring a plausible explanation. Of course successive increases can result in spending just getting out of hand.

The comparison between the 2012 and 2017 county board accounts do reveal some interesting trends concerning the amount spent on the Waterford Senior Hurling Team.
Cost of Senior Hurling Team 2012 €209,804
Cost of Senior Hurling Team 2017 €602,897
Total Increase €393,093
Percentage Increase 187%

The official Consumer Price Index (CPI) will indicate that inflation was quite benign over the last five years. The official inflation rate over this period is 0.50 per cent not per year but in total (see cso.ie).
Average wage increase over the last five years is closer to the 0.50per cent CPI than it is to the 187 per cent increase on the cost of running the Waterford senior hurling team.

By comparison the Waterford senior footballers have had a 36 per cent increase over the last five years, or €42,243 in total over the same five year period giving a total spend of €159,243 in 2017.
Mitigating circumstances? Yes the 2017 year extended to the first Sunday in September for the Waterford hurlers while the 2012 squad bowed out at All-Ireland quarter final stage after reaching the Munster final.
But still the increase is enormous and the spend on the Waterford Senior Hurling Team has increased by over 31 per cent in the last two years alone meaning the expenditure curve is still pointing due north.

The spend on the Waterford Football team has increased by 36 perc cent over the last five years.

The spend on the Waterford Football team has increased by 36 perc cent over the last five years.


Waterford is not alone in this regard. Mayo football team have topped the million mark in the last couple years without even landing the Sam Maguire.
Is it possible to see the difference an extra €393,093 has made to the Waterford hurlers since 2012?
The spending on senior county teams seems to be a bit like the soccer across the water with the more you spend the better your chances of success, or so the story goes.
You must speculate to accumulate.

Endless funds are committed to helping your county securing the ‘Holy Grail’. If county X spends a hundred grand on the latest video analysis equipment then county Y must obviously spend at least the same to keep up with the Joneses or the team from Jones Road anyway.
You have two full-time physios? Ha! I’ll see your two and raise you one and add in a 24 hour GP service and two head doctors for my team. Full-time manger required? Dietician? Strength and conditioning coach? No problem, money no object.

The size of backroom staff is such that some counties need a second bus when travelling to matches.
Is this kind of spending sustainable?
Has other areas in Waterford GAA suffered due to the amount of finance committed to the senior hurlers?
Has spending on our county grounds been restricted?
Would funds be better spent on our Development Squads?
Spending on development squads in Waterford has increased by just €22,096 (or 38%) in the last five years; spend on senior hurlers swelled by €393,093 (or 187%) over the same period.

There is no doubt that there is money in the GAA and if there wasn’t increase in spending as detailed above wouldn’t be possible. Increased sponsorships, TV monies and commercial activities help to fund this expenditure.So too do you and I. All counties have fundraising groups of one kind or another that most of us support in one way or another. Clubs also have been levied in recent years to help balance the county board books and keep the ship afloat.The largess devoted to the county game is creating the kind of elitism that is fashioning a chasm between players and their clubs.

The professional amateur is the oxymoron our county players exist in and threatens the core unit of the GAA, the Club.The GAA’s mission statement states the following: “The GAA is a community based volunteer organisation promoting Gaelic games, culture and lifelong participation”Similar to many in the corporate world, the GAA’s mission statement is fast becoming more aspirational than reality.

For full story see The Munster Express newspaper or
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