PARAIC DUFFY HAS revealed that the GAA are currently liaising with ’12 to 15 clubs’ who are experiencing trouble in tackling the massive debts that they face.
The GAA Director-General was reluctant to reveal the level of debt that clubs are facing but admits it is ‘a huge struggle’ for the clubs in question.
Laois outfit Portlaoise are a high-profile example of a club that have suffered in that regard after embarking on infrastructural developments.
“The cases we deal with are the ones in big debt. I think we know them all. We would deal here with 12 to 15 clubs. I wouldn’t like to put a number on it (what they owe).
“When you’re talking about clubs with debts you are depending on their capacity to meet that debt. To some clubs a debt of €1 million is quite doable. Some very big clubs can handle that, but to some clubs a debt of €1 million is a disaster. You can’t put it in terms of figures.
“There are 12 to 15 clubs who have very high levels of loans that would concern us and that we are working with. Portlaoise is well known. The pressure it is putting on clubs is having a huge impact.
“My concern would be that people would hesitate before taking on those jobs like chairman of a club if you are buying into servicing a debt. These are tough times. In fairness, it’s not going to get better in the short-term.”
The situation is likely to continue due to the country’s turbulent economic state but Duffy rejected suggestions that some clubs may be forced to fold due to financial pressures.
“We haven’t got to that point and I don’t think clubs will go under, they will continue to play games. There are a whole load of factors such as emigration where clubs are struggling to stay afloat, but there would be a very small number of cases (of clubs in danger of going under).
“Something you’d say about our clubs is they seem to hang in there no matter what. It takes an awful lot to put a GAA club out of business.”