05 June 2008 – by Cormac Campbell
Make no mistake we, both Nordie and Mexican, are headed for recession.
In recent times we have earned well, lived fast and built enough houses to cater for what seems like half of Eastern Europe.
It was good while it lasted but the honeymoon is over, rising unemployment, plummeting house prices and the rising cost of living has forced the entire island to tighten its collective belt.
With the nightmare of negative equity facing people hoping to sell their once overpriced homes, Irishmen and women are being forced to look elsewhere to balance the books.
And unfortunately tickets to events are likely to be among the first luxuries to go.
Already there are indications of this with tickets for established artists such as Bruce Springsteen and Prince still available at the 11th hour it seems unlikely that our fledgling boxing industry will emerge unscathed.
The month of July will go a long way to highlighting just how far the rot has set in.
Three quality bills which would have been expected to sell out in a flash just a year ago – may now struggle to shift units.
What is equally unhelpful is the refusal of the British Government to adjust its taxation policy in the North to match that in the Republic, meaning bills in Belfast Irelands largest boxing market – look likely to remain as rare as hens teeth.
Pardon the dreadful pun, but Irish boxing must come out fighting if it is to retain its market share.
What is helpful is the Irish passion for live sport. Thousands of us cross the Irish Sea week in week out for soccer games featuring the likes of Celtic, Rangers, Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal. That number, in all honesty is likely to plummet.
If boxing can stand together and that means promoters Brian Peters and Tommy Egan working around one another then the industry has an opportunity to satiate the Irish desire for top class live sport and actually grow.
Moreover, if times get really tough our desire to pay a monthly direct debit for Pay TV sports channels is likely to wane. Couple that with the fact that professional boxing looks likely to remain a fixture on both RTE and TV3 over the next 12 months and we may weather the worst of the economic storm.
But to do so our boxers need to be more vocal. They need to sell themselves, get out there and meet the fans. To say they should be turning up at the opening of an envelope is not an exaggeration, should they wish fans to part with hard earned cash to see them perform.
Promoters also have to plan sensibly. Given the current climate, smaller is perhaps better. The days of 8,000 packing the Point Depot are unlikely to be repeated in the near future (unless Ricky Hatton books a date at Croke Park) and as such regular events in smaller venues such as the National Stadium, Letterkenny, Limerick, and a reopened Ulster Hall can continue to sell out and offer our best boxers regular contests.
The depth of cards may need to be cut in order to ensure competitive pricing but with a little forward planning, Irish boxing can continue to thrive in uncertain economic times.