No 'white knight' backer waiting in wings, warns rugby boss
THE country's rugby chief says there is "no replacement" for the money generated from alcohol- sponsorship deals.
IRFU chief executive Phillip Browne said the proposed ban would have a negative impact on rugby in Ireland and criticised the Government for not engaging with the country's sporting bodies on the issue.
"The proposals being put forward seem to be suggesting that there can be no alcohol sponsorship in the future," he said.
"Taking out an entire category of sponsorship simply cannot be replaced. There is no white knight to come over the hills to fill the holes in the financial chasm.
"The revenues generated by alcohol sponsorship filter right down to grassroots sport and are effectively used to build participation numbers to get people involved in sport," he said.
Mr Browne criticised the Government for not engaging with sporting bodies and called for a compensation fund to be set up as an alternative to the revenue created from alcohol- sponsorship deals.
"One of the real disappointments in this is that the Department of Health really has failed to engage in any meaningful way with sport because sport is the vehicle in which we can address a lot of the concerns that people have.
"If the minister has some bright idea as to how we replace those revenues we're absolutely 100pc onside with him."
The country's largest sporting organisation, the GAA, says it is less concerned about any proposed ban as it no longer has any major sponsorship deals with alcohol companies.
"This would have been a much bigger issue for us six months ago because we did have an alcohol sponsor for a major sporting event. But now that that is no longer the case," GAA communications manager Alan Milton said.
Last month, Guinness ended its 18-year sponsorship of the All-Ireland Hurling Championship. Liberty Insurance replaced it in a deal believed to be worth €2m over three years.
Last night a spokesman for the FAI warned that the proposal would "have a direct negative impact" on their ability to run community-based programmes, "all of which contribute directly to keeping young people active, healthy and away from the temptations of substance abuse, including alcohol".