Thursday 8 December 2016

Comment: Meddling politicians polish brass necks as arrogance resurfaces over TV deal talks

Published 28/09/2016 | 02:30

A general view of Croke Park Picture: Sportsfile
A general view of Croke Park Picture: Sportsfile

First there was the comical case of the 'Dispossessed Two', Senators Michelle Mulherin and Catherine Noone, who bleated their dismay over the GAA's refusal to provide them with tickets for the drawn football final.

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Now the political classes are at it again, with Galway and Kerry County Councils poking their noses into sporting affairs by calling on the GAA to deal with free-to-air TV channels only in the media rights negotiations for 2017-2019.

Sad tales of people being denied the chance to watch their counties because of the GAA's deal with Sky were re-hashed by Galway and Kerry councillors, who are now to contact president Aogán ó Fearghail about the matter.

Apart from the fact that councillors should have more important issues to occupy them, there's the arrogance which seeks to interfere with a decision taken by a sporting organisation.

A proposal that all televised GAA games be made available free-to-air was beaten on an 85-15 per cent majority at Congress last February. The rationale was simple and logical - don't tie the negotiator's hands by ruling out some channels.

Did Galway and Kerry councils spot that vote or do they think they know better than GAA Congress?

Those of a suspicious nature might even think there is something curious about this issue resurfacing at county council level so soon after the GAA reached an emphatic decision on the subject and just as the new TV deal is being worked on?

Could this be the start of an orchestrated campaign, using county councillors to beat the drum? And if so, who is behind it? And why?

For the record, only 14 per cent of all championship games are shown exclusively 'live on Sky, compared to 31 per cent on RTÉ while 55 per cent aren't screened anywhere.

Irish Independent

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