Inter top bill in Dublin glamour event at peak of GAA season
THE FAI are set to go head-to-head with the GAA next summer after agreeing a €10m deal with a third-party company which will result in a likely clash between a glamour soccer tournament and the All-Ireland football quarter-finals.
European champions Inter Milan, another club from the continent, an unnamed Premier League club and an Airtricity League XI will meet at the Aviva Stadium on the weekend of July 30-31 -- when the remaining eight counties in the GAA's football championship are pencilled in to lock horns at Croke Park.
It is part of a new decade-long arrangement between the FAI and Endemol -- an international production and distribution company -- which will inject €1m a year into the Abbotstown coffers. A pre-season tournament bringing together major teams from around Europe is the centrepiece of the deal.
FAI CEO John Delaney yesterday admitted that the contract with Endemol was the reason why Limerick's planned friendly with Barcelona earlier this year was blocked by the Association. Clubs looking to arrange exhibition matches with an attendance in excess of 15,000 cannot do so, as part of the Endemol deal.
"It's their gig," said Delaney, with respect to the logistics around the inaugural staging of the competition. "We provide the stadium and provide the rights for the games to be played in Ireland."
The FAI's existing ticket-holders for the Aviva Stadium will not receive free access to the games -- however, they will be offered a special rate.
Endemol insist they have done their research to ensure that the price of general admission tickets will be fair in the context of Ireland's dire financial state.
"There is definitely a market for it," said Gregg Oldfield, the managing director of Endemol Sport. "You have to look at each domestic market on its merits, and work in a marketplace that is ready for international football. There are only certain markets, with Ireland being one of them."