Wednesday 20 November 2019

TV clashes won't dictate Ulster throw-ins

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Ulster GAA president Aoghan Farrell has defended the decision to stick with a throw-in time for the Down/Armagh provincial quarter-final on Saturday, May 28 despite a clash with the Champions League final between Manchester United and Barcelona.

Farrell's defence came the day after GAA president Christy Cooney admitted that clashes of this nature were not good for the association's broadcast partners and sponsors and said that opportunities to avoid them should be entertained where possible.

On Wednesday, Leinster Council moved the time of the Offaly/Wexford Leinster quarter-final forward to 5.0 to allow fans to watch the Champions League final (7.45) afterwards.

But Farrell revealed that no request has been made from either Down or Armagh to have the throw-in brought forward and that even if there was one, the staging of an Orange Order march in Armagh city earlier in the day may have precluded a change anyway.

The Ulster Council believe that because the fixture was made last October it would be difficult to change.

"We haven't had any request. We started our fixtures process last October -- it has gone through many, many changes," said Farrell.

"The big thing we look at is our local issues and we have many local issues in Armagh. There is a major parade in Armagh during the day so we had to take that into consideration."

Farrell said it was impossible to react to everything that is on television when fixtures are being made.

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"Some people tell me that when there is an omnibus edition of 'Eastenders', attendances are affected. The Russian ballet certainly affected attendances of a major sporting event in England that I was aware of. Do attendances get affected by television? Of course they do.

"But can we react to everything that is on television? I don't think so."

Farrell said the indications in Ulster were that championship attendances would hold up, and that they had designed packages to allow that to happen. This year, Dr McKenna Cup attendance figures have risen while Ulster U-21 championship fixtures were up by 40pc.

On the issue of payments to managers, Farrell has backed the approach of consultation adopted by Cooney.

"We don't pay managers but somebody is paying them. Ulster is where I would have information on it -- most managers are paid what they are entitled to. They are paid expenses and they are well entitled to that," he said.

"They are not entitled to a wage as in a full-time salary. The voluntary ethos is at the very heart of everything we do in the GAA, especially for players and I would suggest managers.

"Managers put in a huge amount of time and effort and most of them don't get paid. Most of them get reimbursed on genuine time and expenses."

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