The perceived ‘problem’ at present is that Dublin’s ability to sign major sponsorship deals, combined with their games development funding and population size gives them an unfair advantage relative to other counties. This could also be applied to other ‘strong’ counties in both codes. This concern has probably been magnified by a belief that Dublin could dominate Gaelic Football for the foreseeable future. As a result of this, it is proposed to cut Dublin’s games development funding by some, as yet undetermined, amount and increase that given to ‘weaker’ counties.
This Irish Independent article by Martin Breheny outlined the allocation of games development funding across the country. Dublin gets by far the most with just over €1.5m, Cork are second with €0.22m, while Leitrim gets the least with just over €0.1m. This is not surprising given the populations of the counties. Simply controlling for population differences, with population figures taken from the 2011 Census, then on a per-capita basis, Dublin receives €1.18, Cork gets €0.47, while Leitrim gets €3.25. By this measure, Longford does best of all with per-capita funding of €3.73. This is a very crude measure and undoubtedly does not tell the full story about the efficacy or ‘fairness’ of how monies are distributed.
According to the above article, the NFMC argues that “In the interests of equalisation and of achieving a better funding distribution balance, it is proposed to reduce the funding allocation to Dublin over time”. The article also outlines some of the criteria that may be used to classify a country a ‘small’ or ‘weak’, like a population of less than 100,000 and having fewer than 35 clubs. On the other hand, the article states that extra grants will not be made to counties with ‘solid financial reserves’ or those playing in Divisions 1 and 2 of the National League. Is there a possibility that counties will have an incentive to forego promotion, or not avoid relegation, in order to receive more money?
For a National League game, the ‘home’ county can retain 20% of gate money directly to cover costs. Of the vast majority of the remainder, 20% is contributed to a national ‘pool’ that is relatively equally split between all counties and the other 80% is divided among the participating teams. Under this set-up, ‘stronger’ counties, with greater attendances, are subsidising the ‘weaker’ ones to some extent. In Martin Breheny’s article, he says that counties have been arguing for being allowed to retain a greater percentage of gate money. Given the pool system, it is possible that weaker counties would be better off the more gate revenue that must be contributed to any pool.
In possibly amending their re-distribution schemes, one must ask what the objective of GAA is. If it is to put counties on a more equal financial footing, then to what end? As Eugene McGee argues in this article, “the biggest problem facing football in particular is that over 20 counties have little or no chance of winning the All-Ireland, and many have no chance of winning a provincial title either”. This point can be equally applied to hurling. As I argued in my previous post, however, given that the talent available to a county is geographically restricted, and there is effectively no transfer market, extra funding to weaker counties is unlikely to make much of a difference to their likelihood of winning a national or provincial title.