Former Irish men’s senior coach Paul Revington has hit back at suggestions that he and his management team were the root cause of a €37,500 overspend that almost saw Ireland withdraw from the Champions Challenge I.
The IHA board initially announced their intention to pull the side out of the competition in Argentina but a last-minute fundraising drive from the hockey public yielded €60,000 in four days.
They were duly rewarded for their belief faith in the team as Ireland took bronze — with victory over Revington’s new team, Malaysia — in their debut at this level of competition, a result which raised their world standing to an all-time high of 15th.
The alternative would likely have been a drop to 18th, relegation to Challenge II level and a hefty fine.
How such a situation was allowed occur was debated at a heated IHA special general meeting last week. Proclamations at that forum, though, have seen Revington “reluctantly” forced to respond to statements made by selected members of the IHA board and the new IHA chief executive Mike Heskin.
“To have a finger pointed at me and other members of team management now is very disappointing,” he said. He was responding to the
statement released at the SGM that “the senior men’s budget, which was managed by the coach, was overspent in the early months of the year  in the effort to qualify for the Olympics”.
In response, Revington says that the manner in which the budget for 2012 was laid out to him was changed midway through the year with little time to adjust accordingly, a method he says he “argued strongly against”.
Effectively, the coach was given a best-case scenario budget that featured “un-guaranteed income” which was subsequently slashed in the wake of non-qualification in late March.
But notice of necessary cuts were made too late to be implemented after a couple of IHA fundraising initiatives failed to get off the ground.
“I was told in no uncertain terms that the board had decided they wanted to move away from funding allocations in 2012 and rather decide that, if it costs X to meet squad objectives, then X is what is found.
“I was to draw up a programme first and the budget would then be drawn up to suit that. The board planned to raise 40,000 through a draw and that ‘37,500 (was) being targeted from a few other activities’. While the intentions were good, banking on un-guaranteed income is obviously always going to be high risk, particularly if the fundraising efforts do not get off the ground.”
Revington said this method of budgeting differed from each of the previous three years, especially from 2011, which he viewed as a satisfactory method.
Then, he was given a figure based on guaranteed income with the men’s senior team raising money internally via fundraisers, player levies and short-term sponsorships.
He refuted suggestions that there were monthly financial meetings, saying he received just one expenditure update on June 11, three months after non-qualification for the Olympics was confirmed.
“The update indicated that just over half of the original budget had been spent. In the same correspondence I was advised that this original budget had been lowered following non-qualification in March.
“Inside my three and half years with Ireland, with four varying budget processes, with massively fluctuating overall yearly budgets, with the introduction of player levies — we still managed to increase the player pool, improve world ranking, raise substantial additional funding and create an excitement in Irish hockey.
“Under the circumstances, the team management and Irish men’s squad did a truly exceptional job and have/will continue to do so.”