MUNSTER Rugby is forecasting a cash-flow deficit of €600,000 for the 12 months to the end of June, although the province remains confident of reaching a financial break-even point in 2015-2016.
The latest forecast deficit is a significant improvement on 12 months ago when Munster's financial accounts for the year to the end of June 2013 showed a deficit of €800,000.
Munster are hoping to reduce the deficit significantly in 2014-2015 and achieve break-even point the following season.
Thursday night's AGM of the Munster Branch, held at UL-Bohemian RFC clubhouse at Thomond Park, was informed that season ticket sales had decreased by over €650,000 this season although there had been a marked increase in individual match sales of over €315,000.
Munster's glamour Heineken Cup quarter-final clash with Toulouse at Thomond Park in April had generated more than €450,000 in profit after the French side and the IRFU's share from the fixture was paid out. Hospitality and sponsors bonuses played a major part in making the quarter-final lucrative in addition to the gate income.
The AGM also learned that increased revenue from Commercial Board initiatives had offset some other sponsorship reductions. Munster have also requested additional financial support from the IRFU which is expected to significantly reduce the current deficit. The province hope to be in a position to achieve a financial break-even position in 2015-2016.
Munster Rugby has also re-negotiated the remaining balance of just over €9.8 million of the €11.7 million loan it borrowed from the IRFU for the 2008 redevelopment of Thomond Park and there is further hope that more assistance from the governing body was in the pipeline.
Munster were in an agreement to pay €1 million a year. However, that has been restructured now to mean Munster only pay €100,000 a year. The deal was originally due to last until 2017, but has now been extended to 2027.
Munster CEO, Garrett Fitzgerald described the restructured repayments as a 'huge boost' for the province.
The AGM was also informed that planning for Munster's new University of Limerick (UL) training centre has been submitted. UL will build the centre and rent it exclusively to Munster over a long term period. The centre is set to be fully operational in July 2016.
The development project planned for Musgrave Park has been approved at a cost of €3.2 million with work to commence next week. The project includes a new West Stand with 3,500 seats increasing the capacity to 9,500 with a cover for the East Terrace. The work will be funded through a lottery grant, the sale of naming rights, capital development funds, Munster Rugby Supporters Club, land sale and savings on existing stand.
On the day when Ulster Rugby revealed a naming rights deal with long-term sponsor Kingspan for its Ravenhill ground in Belfast, Fitzgerald said Munster were still reviewing whether to chase a similar deal for Thomond Park.
“It’s one of the areas that we’re looking at and no decision whatsoever has been taken in any area on that,” Fitzgerald stressed.
Mick Goggin of UL-Bohemian was elected President of the Munster Branch for 2014-2015 at the AGM. Goggin succeeds John Hartery of Thomond RFC.