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Irish board faces cash crisis
ESPN Staff
July 20, 2013

The woes of the Irish economy has impacted on sales of five- and ten-year debenture tickets meaning the Irish Rugby Football Union is facing a deficit of €26 million (£22m) on projected revenue figures.

The board had expected to make around €40 million (£34.5m) from the sale but only managed €14 million. Less than half the 3,700 tickets that recently went on sale for €9,000 and €5,500 were actually sold and these will now be made available on a match-by-match basis.

The news means the IRFU will have to borrow to fund the professional game and hope that sales improve and IRFU chief executive Philip Browne admitted this will mean the the funding of all professional squads will need to be reduced.

"We've been to the market and the it has said what it has said, we sold just under 50% of the tickets," Browne told the Irish Times. "We will all have to tighten our belts but we are going to continue to operate at the levels we are at. We will continue to fund four professional teams and the national team and the domestic game.

"It is business as usual we are just going to have to borrow to fund that cash deficit over the next six years."

Treasurer Tom Grace told the IRFU's AGM that borrowing was the only option as operations were heavily dependent on the national team and the income it brought.

"[They're] the key provider for all activities undertaken by the union. Without the dividend this generates there would be no IRFU funding for provincial teams and consequently the branches would be relying on what they themselves can generate.

"There is absolutely no doubt that times are hard but we are extremely fortunate that we have managed our cash conservatively over the last number of years. The disappointing result with the sale of 10-year tickets reflects what is happening in the economy."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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