Wexford Park may see cameras in June
SKY TV CAMERAS could be coming to Wexford Park in just two months time as part of the controversial deal announced last week between the satellite broadcaster and the GAA.
The first GAA match to be shown on Sky Sports will be Kilkenny v Offaly in the Leinster Hurling Championship semi-final on June 7, and a week later, on June 14, it will also be showing the second semi-final. This match would be Wexford v Dublin in Wexford Park, should the Model County men first come through a match against the winners of the round-robin preliminary stage in the Leinster Championship this year.
The controversial decision to sell the rights to 14 games to Sky Sports came under fire at a Wexford GAA County Board meeting last week. It was decided there to send a letter to GAA headquarters calling for a review of the rights deal that requires Irish people to have access to Sky Sports for the extra 14 games.
At the meeting on Tuesday night, delegates were unanimous in their disapproval of the deal, which they say will leave thousands of loyal Wexford GAA people without the privilege of watching their favourite national games live on television.
It was argued that the basic Sky package along with the Sky Sports bundle – which has a combined cost of €64 per month, or €768 per year) – will put the games out of reach of many people.
The deal allows Sky to show 20 matches, including the All-Ireland hurling and football semi-finals and finals. Fourteen matches will be exclusively live in Ireland, with the semi-finals and final also on free-to-air TV. Managing director of Sky Sports Barney Francis said: 'We're delighted to be awarded the rights and I'm sure our viewers will be captivated by the thrill and passion of Gaelic football and hurling.'
Páraic Ó Dufaigh, Director General of the GAA, said money wasn't the motivating factor.
But the move has led to outrage in Wexford GAA circles. County Chairman Diarmuid Devereux, pictured right, described the move as 'a terrible and sad day' for the GAA and the people of Ireland are being deprived of watching many games because they can't afford a Sky subscription.
He told club delegates: 'This media deal is a massive shift in GAA policy. All games will be available free of charge in Australia, via Channel 7, but not in Ireland. Where is the analysis, or business case, to underpin the logic of this?'
He asked what the motive for the decision was if not for monetary gain. 'I am fully in favour of the concept of global promotion and I accept we must move forward on this. However, we must find a way to prevent exclusion here at home. Sky Sports should grant, as a minimum, free licence to all clubs for collective viewing of their scheduled games.'
Horeswood GAA Club's representative John Kenny also questioned the GAA's motives and said the move may lead to a pay-for-play system developing here.
Mr Kenny said: 'I think this will open the door to professionalism in the GAA because if the players are hyped up like they are in Premier League soccer on Sky it's going to be the same here. They'll be looking for pay-for-play.'