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GAA hunts cash input

Published 06/09/2007 | 00:00

TV channels hoping to land exclusive rights to cover the All-Ireland hurling and football championships for the next three years will be given a blunt warning by the GAA -- back our proposed new sponsorship €29 million arrangement or there's no deal.

The GAA are currently trawling through the market place, hoping to convince six major companies to come aboard for a three-year sponsorship deal where their names will not be directly linked to the championship, as has been the case with Bank of Ireland and Guinness for over a decade.

The GAA has priced sponsorship of the hurling championship at €4.6million per company over three years while the asking price for football is €5.1m. If successful, it guarantees a massive return of €29.1m over the next three years. That averages out at €9.7m per year, which is more than three times the current income from current title sponsors, Guinness and Bank of Ireland.

No sponsor's name will be directly linked to the championships but instead the GAA will offer them a whole range of inducements.

According to a confidential promotional pack seen by the Irish Independent, these include a guarantee that the company's name will be a presenting sponsor of the TV coverage of the championship, exclusive advertising rights at grounds which stage championship games and generous ticket packages.

Benefits

RTE's contract to cover the championships ends this year and it's understood that they will have some challengers, principally Setanta, for the rights over the next few years.

According to the presentation currently being put before potential sponsors by the GAA, the sponsors will have their logos carried on all TV coverage as well as featuring in

'stings' built into the various breaks.

Sponsors will also be given a dominant presence on advertising hoardings in Croke Park and in key positions at other championship grounds.

In effect, existing advertisers will be squeezed out in favour of the six major companies who are bank-rolling the championship. The new sponsors will be entitled to 100 free tickets for All-Ireland finals with an option to buy a further 200.

They will also have access to tickets for games in previous rounds.

The GAA's sponsorship proposal, which is based on a format used at major international events such as the Olympics Games and rugby and soccer World Cups, represents a bold step by the GAA. If successful it will greatly increase their income in future years.

According to the GAA's brochure, the model "has been comprehensively evaluated by Sponsor Metrix, a company that specialises in international rights packages". The new approach is designed to squeeze the maximum return from the championships at a time when their popularity is at an all-time high. It's also designed to reduce ambush marketing.

Approached

"In recent years, we have become ever more conscious of the plethora of brands trying to associate themselves with our games. We believe that it has become ever more important that we control this area so that it does not become diluted for our official partners," writes GAA president, Nickey Brennan in an introductory message to would-be sponsors.

It's not known as yet how many companies are being approached by the GAA but six have been identified in the glossy presentation, showing how the advertising signage would operate in Croke Park under the new deal. They are: Bank of Ireland, Guinness, Vodafone, ESB, Toyota and Coca-Cola. The first two are already involved as championship sponsors; Vodafone sponsors the All-Stars and Player of the month awards; ESB back the All-Ireland minor championships; Toyota are the GAA's official car supplier while Coca-Cola are involved in a range of GAA activities, including Feile na nGael.

Despite losing title status, Bank of Ireland and Guinness are likely to stay aboard but it remains to be seen if the other four, can be persuaded to become part of the new arrangement.

Sponsorship of the National Leagues, currently held by Allianz, and the All-Ireland club championships (AIB) will remain separate.

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