Wednesday 23 January 2019

New Director General confirms there won't be additional games shown on TV despite new championship structures

17 April 2018: Ard Stiúrthóir of the GAA Tom Ryan during a media briefing at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
17 April 2018: Ard Stiúrthóir of the GAA Tom Ryan during a media briefing at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

The GAA's new Director General Tom Ryan has dismissed as 'unfair' any perception that his work as a Croke Park 'insider' will leave him constrained in tackling the significant issues that will face the Association over the seven years of his term.

Speaking at his first media conference today, Ryan said his role as Director of Finance over the last 11 years should not draw the assumption that his primary concern will be the generation and spend of money.

Ryan stressed that the terms of the controversial five-year broadcast deal with Sky Sports would remain in place for the duration and indicated that the addition of extra Championship games in football and hurling would not lead to an increase in the number of games that the pay-per-view channel, or RTE for that matter, would cover, keeping it at the present level of 45 live games.

"We’re going to stick with the existing structure of things. We’re happy with how the arrangement has worked up to now and we’re not looking at changing the nuts and bolts of the arrangement until that comes up for renewal," he said.

Ryan said he should be given time to make his mark in his new role rather than jump to premature conclusions just because of his background.

"I think it’s probably a little unfair to reach those conclusions before somebody has even started in the position," he said.

"But it’s up to me and it’s incumbent upon me to make my mark on the thing while I’m there.

"I am an insider to the extent that I have worked here for the last, whatever it is, 10 or 11 years, but I think that’s not necessarily and shouldn’t be presented as an impediment to getting things done or achieving things or to perhaps changing things.

"I’d like to think that I have a little bit of insight into how the GAA works and how change can be brought about in an organisation that is, I suppose, of its nature inherently conservative but that’s not a bad thing and I have vision to the extent that I think I’m in a good position, that I work at both ends of the spectrum.

"I’m here (Croke Park) trying to do my best from nine to whatever time it tends to be in the evening time in a day job and I’m also trying to do my best in a small or medium-sized club (Faughs hurlling club) that faces all of the issues that every club in the Association faces in terms of participation, in terms of retaining players, in terms of fixtures."

Ryan feels he will be quickly able to distance himself from the 'financial' perception that has built around him since he was appointed.

"The thinking I will bring to it is not purely financial. It's not even financial at all and I have a little job of work to do to distance myself from that financial debate and those financial questions and you will see that hopefully happening over the course of the next months ahead."

His immediate priority is to see how newly-crafted championship formats will bed in but acknowledged that striking a better balance between the club and county games will be important to him.

"Fixtures are the buzzword in terms of the club player," he said. "To espouse a predictable and reasonable and fair and balanced programme for club players is not an unreasonable position for anyone to adopt and I think the Association has made strides towards that in recent years, more recently with the changes that we have brought about to the championship structure.

"I think we'll see the results of that as this three-year programme unfolds. We will be able to gauge the merits of how that has worked. Quite apart from fixtures there is the question of emphasis in total in that the county game does predominate, it captures most of the attention, most of the resources, most of the time, and you would like to see over the course of the coming years where some of that balance is addressed a little bit.

"And I don't just mean in the context of players but also volunteers and club officers and officials who are keeping the show on the road. It's not just down to one specific thing, fixtures would be first and foremost in my mind but overall, it behoves us to bear in mind the needs of players and volunteers at club level."

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