“Extortionate” Boxing Union of Ireland charges driving promoters away claims Jay Byrne

The Boxing Union of Ireland [BUI] are facilitate and maintain professional boxing in Ireland but new promoter Jay Byrne warns they could be killing the game south of the border.

The JB Promotions boss has taken real exception to the charges the governing body require to run a show, going as far as to label them “extortionate” and suggests they are driving promoters away.

The straight talking BUI Celtic welterweight champion is promoting ‘The Beginning’ card in association with Assassin Promotions on July 7th at the National Stadium but has hinted that, due to BUI costs and charges, ‘The Beginning’ could also be the end.

The 31-year-old, who established himself as a prominent figure in Irish boxing since turning over out of the blue back and in 2016, claims it’s almost impossible for promoters to make money putting on shows.

With no potential for profit, Byrne predicts shows will dry up and suggests the BUI will have to accept some of the blame.

In an explosive interview with Gavin Casey of the42.ie, Byrne claimed that “the costs of running a professional show in [the Republic of] Ireland are extortionate and it’s a wonder why anyone would even bother trying to put on a show down here.”

“The BUI are charging me about six-and-a-half grand, which is colossal. That’s on top of a 10-grand bond that you need to put up to them as well. Now, you get the bond back after the show, but you still need to pay it to begin with. So that’s 16-and-a-half grand straight off the bat, right?”

“That’s what you’re up against. It’s unbelievable. It’s absolutely unbelievable.”

“The charges are going to drive promoters away. Well, who are we fooling? They already have driven promoters away. Red Corner are already gone, and they won’t be the last to go.”

The BUI, who have been in operation since 1980 when they took over from the [BBBoC] British Boxing Board of Control-backed Irish Boxing Board of Control, declined to comment on Byrne’s assertions.

Affiliated to the European Boxing Union, the BUI would likely argue that their costs are necessary for the running of the organisation and, as they state on their website, their responsibility for “the overseeing of all aspects of professional boxing in the Republic.”

However, grumblings regarding costs and licence-holder representation, have been raised previously over the years.

The difference in this case being Byrne has gone public and on the record with his concerns.

Irish-Boxing.com believes the current charges, minus expenses, for officials for a ‘standard’ National Stadium show would be in and around €2,500 plus additional sanctioning fees for titles (€500 for the Irish title and €300 for the BUI Celtic title).

Along with this, and the refundable bond, there is a general BUI fee, which is said to be the main bugbear, that can come in at anywhere up to €5,000.

Many would argue that making shows cheaper would lead to more shows – and by extension, potentially, more revenue for all parties. That said, the BUI again may argue that the current fees model, which is claimed to be more expensive than the admittedly far larger BBBoC, is necessary.

The body elected a new president last year – Brian McKeever – with Mel Christle stepping down. However, the former heavyweight boxer remains a member and is said to retain a decisive say in all matters.

The BUI costs and charges, which again must be stated may be considered by the body to be completely reasonable and warranted for the services they provide, are not the only expenses when running shows, of course.

Byrne, who ran profitable and successful semi-pro shows, revealed the other costs he has accrued ahead of the July 7th show.

“On top of that, it’s another four grand to rent the [National] Stadium. You’re 20 grand out of pocket before you so much as print a ticket, buy the gloves, buy bottles of water, hire a DJ, do any sort of production.”

“It’s colossal, like. It’s absolutely colossal. What are you supposed to do? There’s just nowhere to go with that,” ‘The Negotiator’ added in the feature length interview before musing that it would be more cost effective for him to take his fighters abroad.

“Just to put it into some sort of context: I can bring my fighters to Latvia, right? I can fly to Latvia on a Friday, put two of my lads in the ring on a Saturday night, fly home on the Sunday; for flights, accommodation and two tune-up wins for my fighters, it’ll cost me €800.”

“To fight in Dublin, half of that – one tune-up win for one fighter – would cost €2,500.”

“So for a third of the price of one fight in Dublin, you can go and get two wins for your lads elsewhere. You could run one show a year, two shows a year abroad: bring your fighters away to Latvia, to Hungary, to Mexico and before you know it they have seven or eight wins. It’s not my way of doing it, but I’m just saying it’s a hell of a lot cheaper.

“It saves you the stress and the difficulty of banging out a show in Dublin, where the only ones making money seem to be the BUI,” continued Byrne.

The former footballer and successful businessman then made what appears a more stand-out comparison revealing what he believes to be the costs in Belfast.

The Loughlinstown fighter alleged that “£5,000 covers the entire running of a show in Belfast. You’d be better off running a show up there. Sell 10 dinner tables at ringside like Mark Dunlop does with his shows up there. 500 quid a table, job done: that covers the whole cost of the show.”

“In Dublin, you can’t get a hotel or a similar venue – and that’s not the BUI’s fault, to be fair. It’s because of the shootings. So it nearly has to be the Stadium. You really are snookered. Renting the National Stadium alone costs almost as much as an entire show in Belfast.”

“Now, with all of that being said, I’m very confident that I’ll run a great show from the weigh-in all the way through to fight night on 7 July. And if the fighters sell the tickets they’re supposed to sell, I do believe we’ll have about 1500 people in the Stadium. I don’t think we’ll be far off that.”

Grab a cup of tea and read Gavan Casey’s outstanding extended interview with Jay Byrne here.


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