‘No update’ on decision to centralise Munster to one base

Alan Owens


Alan Owens

'Happy with submission': UL Sports Arena director Dave Mahedy
MUNSTER Rugby’s chief executive declined to comment this Wednesday on plans to consolidate the province into one centre in Limerick or Cork.

MUNSTER Rugby’s chief executive declined to comment this Wednesday on plans to consolidate the province into one centre in Limerick or Cork.

Garrett Fitzgerald said there was “no update” on the decision on where to locate the province’s training base.

“There is no movement on that at the moment,” he told the Leader.

He also declined to comment on reports that Munster are seeking to make cutbacks on the administrative side of the business, with possible redundancies to follow.

According to a report in a Sunday newspaper, staff were told last week that redundancies were a likelihood. It is believed that costs at all levels of the organisation have been examined in recent months with a view to making significant savings.

The organisation suffered losses of more than €1 million last year.

The decision on rationalising Munster into one base is a tricky one politically as the two time Heineken Cup winners currently divide their time between Limerick and Cork, a situation described as “a complete logistical nightmare” by former manager Shaun Payne.

At Munster’s instigation last year, the University of Limerick, Limerick Institute of Technology and Cork Institute of Technology all lodged bids to secure the province’s full-time training headquarters.

Mr Fitzgerald indicated to the Limerick Leader last August that a decision was due in October, but it has not emerged. The process is likely to be fraught, with Limerick and Cork both vying for the right to host the team on a full-time basis.

It is thought that UL are slight favourites to win out, having submitted a very strong proposal to Munster, but this would leave the branch with a major headache from those in favour of centralising to Cork.

The Munster CEO previously said the decision would be made purely “on business grounds” and that there would be a two-year turnaround from any outcome.

Speaking to the Leader this week, UL Sports Arena director Dave Mahedy said that UL was “very happy” with the content of the submission it had made to Munster and that it was “actively pursuing” the project.

“We are in a competition and there are three other sites in it, so I can’t say whether we are going to win, but it is like anything and we do want to win,” he said.

“The fact that we have been involved with them since they turned professional hopefully will stand with us and we will be judged on what we can offer and what we can deliver. I would be confident about that.”

The UL Arena already employs 100 people and Mr Mahedy said that the provision of new facilities did make up part of the submission.

“We are very happy with our submission and our facilities are developing by the year - and we hope to add more to it,” he said.

“We have a fair idea having worked with Munster for the last 12 to 15 years what they want.”