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Sporting bodies have lost up to 70 pc of self-generated revenue, committee hears

Mary O’Connor, CEO of the Federation of Irish Sport, outlined the financial hardship facing many bodies.

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Mary O’Connor, CEO of the Federation of Irish Sport, outlined the financial hardship facing many of the sports organisations because of the lack of activity this year (Oireachtas/PA).

Mary O’Connor, CEO of the Federation of Irish Sport, outlined the financial hardship facing many of the sports organisations because of the lack of activity this year (Oireachtas/PA).

Mary O’Connor, CEO of the Federation of Irish Sport, outlined the financial hardship facing many of the sports organisations because of the lack of activity this year (Oireachtas/PA).

Sports organisations have lost up to 70% of self-generated revenue because of pandemic restrictions, an Oireachtas committee has heard.

Many National Governing Bodies (NGBs) are struggling to survive the huge financial strain brought on by the Covid-19 health measures.

Mary O’Connor, CEO of the Federation of Irish Sport, told the committee on Media, Tourism and Sport that the sports sector is not sustainable without yearly memberships, event participants and supporters at games and events.

The Federation of Irish Sport is a representative body for 110 sporting organisations across Ireland.

More than 10% of swimming pools have closed permanently since March. Mary O'Connor

Ms O’Connor outlined the financial hardship facing many of the organisations because of the lack of activity this year.

She told the committee that the GAA, FAI and IRFU are facing an estimated combined financial loss of 81 million euro.

The committee also heard there has been a 60% reduction in footfall and income in commercial sports facilities including gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools since March.

“More than 10% of swimming pools have closed permanently since March,” she added.

“By way of example, in what was meant to be a stellar year for Athletics Ireland in hosting the European Athletics Championships they instead suffered a 50% loss in income for the second half of the year and a redundancy process with 15% of their staff, with a further 40% of their staff on short time since May.

“This is just one example of many.”

Ms O’Connor said the government’s 70 million euro resilience fund in June was welcome respite and provided stability for their members.

However, she warned that Budget 2021 is a “watershed moment” for sport in Ireland and the government’s commitment to the national sport policy.

“Badminton Ireland are just one example of the challenges being faced. They have suffered a loss of 76% of annual affiliation compared with this time last year,” she said.

It represents a loss of 10,000 players and 250 clubs and will lead to a loss of over 190,000 euro.

Meanwhile, Swim Ireland has seen a reduction in swimming lessons’ income of 79%, while average income from leisure centres and swimming pools from March to August has dropped 65%.

Hamish Adams, CEO of Athletics Ireland, said they have lost a significant amount of income because of cancelled events.

He told the committee: “It’s a very challenging time, the business model of all sports has changed.

“We had planned to deliver 21 mass-participation recreational events this year, which is a significant income for us and unfortunately not one of the events have take place in person.

“The margins on virtual events do not generate the revenues that in-person have. It has had a massive impact on our organisation right across the board.

“The business model of all sports has changed and we will need time to adjust to the new model, we will adjust but we need support from Government to do that.

“That’s why Budget 2021 is such a watershed for us. Sport has a big influence on physical and mental health of the nation.”

Online Editors