Serious questions need to be asked regarding sports capital funding grants

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David Wilson reporting for the Sean McCaffrey foundation.

Recently, Minister for Business and Innovation and Cavan/Monaghan T.D. Heather Humphreys announced via her twitter account all the sports clubs who have received funding through the National Sports Capital Programme.

Out of the €1.36m worth of state funding, a measly €60,591 was allocated directly for the development of soccer in both Cavan and Monaghan. This equates to just under 4.5% of the total funding was allocated to the most participated sport in the country.

Problems

There are some problems regarding the attaining of the grants. The club must own their own facilities which is a stumbling block for many sports organisations.

Also, the club must provide proof of some financial backing, whether that is backing from a national governing body e.g. the FAI or a financial institution such as a loan from a bank.

Without existing collateral such as a pitch or clubrooms, it is nigh on impossible to attain funding from financial institutions. Local councils do not to do enough in the education or the provision of possible avenues of funding for local sporting organisations.

Whilst speaking to a member of the Monaghan Town club, they have been left frustrated by their inability to apply for grants due to not owning their own grounds. How are clubs meant to improve or even own their own facilities when they don’t have the means to do so?

Another north Monaghan club were completely unaware of the grants that were available, pointing to the lack of information concerning the allocation of government funding.

Successful

The Clontibret Development Association which is defined in the report as specifically a soccer programme was the only ‘soccer-only’ club to receive funding in all of Monaghan. They received €14,425 which is focused on the improvement of their ‘Clontibret Community Dressing Rooms’.

When further researching this project, the Clontibret Development Association have constructed an astro-turf pitch which was built by PST Sport, an Irish artificial pitch installation company.

The astro-turf pitches have been constructed with two GAA goalposts at either end of the pitch, with two more GAA goalposts flanking each side of the pitch. The pitch also has floodlights which allow for activity 365 days of the year.

There are nets provided which can divide the pitch into sectors, but this would mainly to allow people play 5 aside, limiting numbers and space. This provides a beneficial source of revenue for the organisation.

Questions

In the Sports Capital Programme report which is available online the club has been allocated €14,425 for the development of soccer.

There is no organised soccer club in Clontibret, at either a junior or adult level. Questions must be asked to why over €14,000 was allocated to an area based on the development of soccer, when there is little representation of a soccer club on the area.

The Clontibret Development Association should not be denounced in receiving the funding, rather questions should be asked of state bodies who determine and allocate the funding.

A spokesperson from the association said that they were delighted to receive the funding and are aiming to use it to build the necessary bathroom facilities along with changing facilities soon.  

Cavan soccer

Cavan on the other hand saw only soccer one club receive state money. A juvenile club UCL Harps, who compete in the Longford and District league, received €44,166 of state funding for the erection of a clubhouse.

Out of the 21 organisations in Cavan that received government funding, over 70% of those who received funding were GAA clubs.

Monaghan soccer

In Monaghan 21 organisations also received funding, 13 of those 21 organisations were awarded funding for the development of Gaelic Games. Our Lady’s Secondary School in Monaghan were awarded €23,498 for the development of Gaelic Games, even though schools are encouraged to facilitate for all who wish to take part in any sport.

The provision of government funding has long neglected soccer as a means of investing in at a serious level. Not just soccer, but all sports other than GAA have seemed somewhat overlooked in recent years.

2017 report

In the 2017 report, only two soccer clubs in Cavan, UCL Harps and Bailieboro Celtic benefitted from government funding receiving €40,000 and €11,000 respectively. This equates to 5.5% of state funding being invested in local soccer clubs.

The 2017 report saw also just two clubs receive government funding. Monaghan United and Carrick Rovers AFC received €2,000 and €39,000 which worked out to be just over 5% of the total funding granted in 2017.

The tradition in the under-funding of soccer clubs has occurred consistently year on year with monies allocated to soccer fluctuating between 3% to 7% of the total budget.

Shortcomings

The GAA have long proved to be the masters of lobbying and fundraising. Soccer clubs continually fall short regarding their own fundraising, but they need to be helped by the authorities in question.

Fianna Fáil councillor Raymond Aughey spoke to the Sean McCaffrey Foundation regarding the subject.

“There is a prejudice against soccer in this county,” said Cllr Aughey. “I think the best way for other sports to receive funding would be to come up with some sort of a plan together, and then fill out an application that would have more of a chance of receiving government money,” continued Aughey.

Politicians, club delegates and sports club committee members need to come together to educate, inform and eventually overcome the deficit in the funding of soccer in this area.

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