Tuesday 21 November 2017

GAA look at cutting TV games to boost crowds

GAA Director General Paraic Duffy speaking yesterday at the Irish Sports Council announcement at the Aviva Stadium. Photo: Brian Lawless / Sportsfile
GAA Director General Paraic Duffy speaking yesterday at the Irish Sports Council announcement at the Aviva Stadium. Photo: Brian Lawless / Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

The GAA are to address the escalating amount of live broadcasts in a bid to arrest falling attendances ahead of the next round of negotiations with their TV partners later this year.

As figures in yesterday's Irish Independent confirmed, championship attendances have dwindled this summer and Director General Paraic Duffy yesterday conceded that live TV coverage is a significant factor.

"The present TV contract runs out this year and as part of any new deal, we'll be looking at the number of games," said Duffy.

"I don't think it's far away. I've said before that maybe we've too many games live. Last Sunday you'd four live games and you have to ask questions."

Duffy was upbeat about the potential for attendances to bounce back towards the latter end of the championship, but he echoed Leinster Council secretary Michael Delaney's fears for the GAA's ability to invest in the grassroots.

"The dip in attendances is very marginal.

"There were a couple of games in particular -- obviously what happened in Limerick was a problem.

"We rescheduled some fixtures for TV which obviously affected attendances.

"There's a long way to go yet and, in terms of the big games, we've only played a tiny proportion of them. There were four live games on TV last Sunday, but there were 60,000 in Croke Park and nearly 18,000 in Cavan. I think you'll find by the end of the year there'll be very little difference from last year.

"Regarding revenue, obviously there's an issue. Attendances are part of your income, but there are other sources like TV money, sponsorship and the Irish Sports Council.

"The biggest problem is that there is no longer any government investment in capital projects. We're still trying to invest in grounds and infrastructure, but there's no government investment at all. We have to accept that. There won't be for the foreseeable future."

Duffy also revealed that the GAA are actively pursuing a technological solution to resolve contentious decisions relating to questionable calls as to whether points have been scored or not -- as happened on successive weekends in both the Galway v Offaly Leinster semi-final games.

"Pat Daly is in charge of it and we are looking at it. There is research and they are looking at it. That's an issue for us. If there were two umpires standing there in the England game, Frank Lampard's goal would have stood. So there you are. Maybe FIFA can learn from the GAA!"

Duffy also reiterated that the GAA's Central Competitions Control Committee acted independently of TV analysts when assessing the recent Paul Galvin case and in all other cases.

He also dismissed Galway hurler Joe Canning's claim that the sport is being turned into "tiddlywinks", confirming "there were no instructions given to referees this year beyond the general instruction to apply the rules."

Irish Independent

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