GAA hoping to defuse Sky furore with subscription deal for clubs
The GAA is negotiating with Sky Sports to see if they will do a special discounted subscription deal for clubs which would help ensure that their members don't miss out any of this summer's televised championship matches.
The Association has shipped a great deal of criticism in the past week for giving 14 of its championship games exclusively to the British subscription channel.
But that clamour could lessen if a special sweetheart deal for GAA clubs could be struck. That would certainly soften the blow as it would mean that clubs could get discounted subscriptions and show the games in their clubhouses and members would not have to shell out personally for the access.
The GAA's commercial director Peter McKenna has confirmed that negotiations are ongoing about the possibility of a discount for clubs.
"We will work with Sky and see if there are things we can do in terms of getting subscriptions for clubs and so forth," he said. "All of these things are happening as we speak.
"What we are trying to do is get them contact details with clubs, which Sky said they would want around the launch of the event. We are working on it at the moment."
The Sky deal gave further ammunition to the critics who allege that the GAA has become more interested in commercial profits than its grassroots and it signed its latest sponsorship deal yesterday.
The fact that the Association is adding its name to the wrapper of a chocolate bar (Cadbury's Moro) could attract further criticism, especially from the health lobby.
But the same company has been sponsoring the U-21 football championship for the past decade and the latest deal involves a competition that will offer two all-expenses-paid trips to Boston next autumn to watch the All Stars in action.
"Cadbury have been huge sponsors of the U-21s for years and they're huge employers in Coolock and have been for years," McKenna said. "The Moro bar is the only one that is manufactured in Ireland. Chocolate is a treat and it should always be seen as such. We shouldn't be so puritanical that the whole thought of having a treat should be taken away."
He said that the GAA distributes €44m every year and needs to sign commercial deals to maintain that.
"If we were to get a grant for €44m elsewhere we would do things differently, but that's unrealistic," McKenna added. "We have an obligation. We have €9m that's going to be spent on capital developments this year.
"There's another €10m that goes into county offices and other developmental activity. There's €14m being spent on game development and we have 100-odd development officers all over the country. The money is well spent."