Future of Foyle Cup in doubt after NITB ‘budget constraints’

Michael Hutton, Chairman, Hughes Insurance Foyle Cup.
Michael Hutton, Chairman, Hughes Insurance Foyle Cup.

The Foyle Cup will not go ahead in 2016 if the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) fail to provide the competition with funding, according to Foyle Cup Chairman, Michael Hutton.

Despite the fact that the Foyle Cup’s funding application to the NITB was “successful” the NITB was unable to process the application because their “budget was not sufficient to meet all demands”.

“We are already working on the back of a £8,000 deficit from last year’s competition and whilst this year’s Foyle Cup will go ahead there will be no competition next year if we have our funding cut,” Mr. Hutton told the Journal.

The Foyle Cup started in Derry in 1992 and was contested by eight teams over one day. Last year’s tournament was played over a week and attracted in excess of 200 teams from all over the world.

“The Foyle Cup goes from strength to strength every year. The Journal wouldn’t have enough room to print all of the good things that have been said about the competition over the year,” said Mr. Hutton.

“Not one person within the organising team earns any money and all we can afford to pay our referees is £40 per day. Some of the referees could be officiating three or four games a day and have to provide their own travel.”

He continued: “We have a team of referees coming from Holland this year and they are paying for their own travel. The Foyle Cup exists with a small pot of funding and a lot of good will and volunteers.”

NITB has provided £85,000 of financial assistance to the Foyle Cup since 2011. A NITB spokesperson said whilst the event’s application had been successful NITB was unable to provide funding at the current time.

“Tourism NI has not withdrawn £15,000 of funding for the Foyle Cup.

“Tourism NI provides funding to successful event applications through an annual open call tourism events scheme.

“Tourism NI was delighted to receive a budget to operate the 2015/2016 Tourism Events Fund however the budget was not sufficient to meet all demands.”

The spokesperson went on to explain why NITB was unable to award the Foyle Cup with funding.

“Whilst the Foyle Cup’s application was successful and is still being considered we are not in a position to offer an award at this time due to budget constraints.

“Tourism NI continues to bid for additional budget and has offered the event support though a range of our marketing platforms.”