Eddie Hearn has confirmed that the long awaited Katie Taylor fight at Croke Park will not be taking place in May of this year, with her rematch against Amanda Serrano instead set to be held at the 3 Arena on May 20th.
It is a big blow to Irish sporting fans. Instead of 80,000 people making their way to GAA HQ for the bout, tickets will instead be limited to around 9,000 at the much smaller venue.
Hearn blamed the costs associated with hosting the event at Croke Park for the breakdown in negotiations, hinting that the GAA were being unreasonable in their demands and stating that it would cost 'three times' the amount of a similar event at Wembley Stadium.
However, the GAA believe this version of events is not accurate.
GAA refuse to take blame for breakdown in Katie Taylor talks
Croke Park commercial director Peter McKenna has now responded, believing the demands by the stadium organisers were not unreasonable.
Speaking at the launch of the GAA's annual report and financial results, he said that the breakdown largely stemmed from issues relating to security costs, with Hearn's Matchbox believing they should not be responsible for this aspect of the event (h/t RTÉ).
We would love to have the fight here.
The last time we talked to them properly was before Christmas. Our rent was coming in around €400k. I think the rent for Wembley is about £250k/300k (€280-355k). We are not colossally more expensive than Wembley.
The real issue here is about security costs, which we felt the promoter should carry.
I think the surprise was that our focus on security and attention to detail was far more than they would have expected in a Wembley scenario or Bethnal Green scenario. You're talking about bringing 60-70,000 people into a stadium for a fight that’s late in the evening with quite a bit of alcohol taken.
We looked at the risk analysis on the event and we felt that the amount of security that you'd need would be at the top level and that is not inexpensive.
So I think maybe there's a worry there they wouldn't quite get the attendance and also the costs associated with hosting an event at a certain standard, that we would be very proud that we would hold to, has caused a little bit of jitters.
During the report, it would be announced that the GAA recorded a record surplus of €18million in 2022, largely down to concerts held at Croke Park.
McKenna would go on to compare such an event to the Euro 2020 final, which was marred by crowd trouble. He said that Croke Park's approach to already having gardaí on site would reduce the possibility of such issues, but also further increases cost.
The costs quoted are far less than we'd normally charge because we would have loved to have had Katie Taylor. The eyes of the world would be on us.
What you have to do though is bear in mind the Euro 2020 scenario. If you look at what happened in Wembley at the Euros, there was carnage there and and a public inquiry. Baroness Casey was scathing on the lack of stewards, the police didn’t deploy until too late.
Police don’t deploy for Croke Park or the Aviva or anywhere else - they’re actually here. You’re not waiting for them to arrive.
So we, and I think everyone in the event industry based in Ireland, would pride ourselves on the fact that we run very, very safe events and if that costs then that’s a cost that we have to do.
The eyes of the world are on us for these type of events and we’re not going to change our position on that.
We run events very well from my view – 400,000 came to Garth Brooks and we had no issues. There's an awful lot of work goes into that, preparing the plans and a lot of agencies involved. There's the gardai, the fire brigade, Dublin City Council, all contributing to a plan that's cohesive.
Katie Taylor may well fight at Croke Park at some point in the future, but it seems as though it won't be happening this summer.
It is certainly a pity.