Cooney urged counties to stay at home this week
GAA PRESIDENT Christy Cooney pleaded this week for counties to support the ailing Irish economy by holding their training camps at home, yet the Irish Independent can reveal that the new contract for printing the 2010 championships tickets has just gone abroad.
The last company that printed the championships tickets was also foreign, described by the GAA yesterday as “an Italian company with Irish interests”.
New sponsorship deals meant that the GAA put the 2010 championships ticket-printing contract out to tender, but the only Irish company to apply for it was informed last week that their bid had failed and the job is going outside the country. Croke Park would not say yesterday where exactly their new ticket printer is located because the contract has not yet been completed, but a GAA spokesman did confirm that ticketing had been “outsourced to a company in Europe”.
He said the only Irish company involved had submitted a tender that was 40pc higher than the competition and that the GAA could not countenance such a difference, despite the association’s strong commitment to ‘buy Irish’.
But the company involved, Aluset from Dublin, said no one had ever indicated to them that there was such a large differential in tenders or gave them any chance to negotiate.
“I was simply told that we were beaten on price and that the job was going to a European supplier,” Aluset director John O’Loughlin said.
“I fully understand that price is the bottom line for many companies but we tendered for a job with the IRFU last year and were told we were very competitive. How can things have changed so dramatically in a year?
“Apart from that, the GAA is not an ordinary company; it is a memberbased organisation,” O’Loughlin argued. “I am one of those members. I train the U-6 and U-7s in my own club (Kilmacud Crokes).
“And when you’ve got an Irish company bidding for a GAA job I would have thought that the association would, at least, offer them a chance to negotiate for it.
“We were given just two days to get in our tender and then five days later were simply informed that the contract was going to Europe.
“How can Christy Cooney come out and say, ‘keep GAA business in Ireland’ and then that’s how you’re treated?
That smacks of hypocrisy,” O’Loughlin added.
Aluset is based in Poppintree, employs 60 people, prints sport and concert tickets for major distributor Ticketmaster and already has a separate contract with Croke Park to print its premium tickets.
Earlier this week GAA president Christy Cooney implored inter-county teams to stay at home for the sort of foreign training camps that were common during the Celtic Tiger years.
"We are in a difficult economic climate and if it can be done at home, why shouldn't it be done at home," Cooney argued.
But GAA Communications Manager Alan Milton said that, in this instance, the association had to be guided by economic factors.
"The principle of Buy Irish is part of our charter," Milton stressed. "But as much as we want to support Irish business there was a full 40pc difference between this tender and its competitors and we also have a responsibility to our members to spend our money wisely.
"We established recently that 90pc of all of our printing is done in Ireland, and the ticket printing contract prior to the last was also done by an Irish company," Milton added.
When the GAA introduced a new season ticket last season, in a credit card format, it gave the contract to a company from Tallaght.
The volume for that work, however, would have been substantially less than for championship tickets.