Sunday 21 January 2018

'You could have seen the game for €10' - GAA boss dismisses Michael Duignan's criticism of Sky deal

Peter McKenna, left, and Michael Duignan have differing views on the Sky deal
Peter McKenna, left, and Michael Duignan have differing views on the Sky deal Newsdesk Newsdesk

Croke Park commercial and stadium director Peter McKenna has said he found Michael Duignan's criticism of the GAA's deal with Sky 'curious'.

Duignan launched an impassioned speech against the five-year deal on The Sunday Game after the Kilkenny-Waterford game last weekend was not broadcast on free-to-air TV.

McKenna, speaking on The Pat Kenny Show on Newstalk, said that it was unfair that the Offaly legend's view went unchallenged on the show and that he was watching the third Lions Test against New Zealand on Sky the morning of Waterford's win.

He also said that people afraid of missing the game could have seen the game on Sky for a one-off payment of €10.

“Michael’s entitled to his opinion. I think the issue we take very much is that that piece lacked balance," he said.

“Michael is an employee of RTE, he’s paid to be an analyst. Is it particularly fair that that comment is allowed to carry without counterpoint to it?

"You can get a Sky Now product, you could have seen that game for €10 if that was your real intent. The irony is that Michael tweeted the day before about sitting down to watch the Lions match, so he has Sky, so it seems to be a curious position to have taken."

Duignan made the point that the GAA didn't need the money but McKenna argued that the GAA had to create an environment where they could raise funds for the association.

“With GAAGo, we sell subscriptions, and Sky give us the match coverage free. RTÉ are a 50% shareholder in that. Anyone watching the game in Auckland would have had to pay the subscription, and pay the subscription to RTÉ and ourselves as the other shareholder. It’s a complicated issue," he added.

“We get about €2.5m from government every year to run our games, but with sponsorship and everything else, we need that have games development officers, to put investment into Tullamore in Offaly, the new Páirc Uí Chaoimh, Croke Park and so on. In total, we would reinvest 92% of all the income we get in. It’s not as though there’s massive shareholders sitting in Croke Park and running away off with it. It’s about creating a small economy which is the GAA in order to look after ourselves.

"Matches must have a value for a pay-to-see service to buy them, and obviously the Waterford game had huge value. That was selected at the start of the year. Nobody knew what that game would be. It just happened to be one of the greats.

“I think (the Sky deal) is working very well for us. We have a five-year deal. Does anyone really know where the business will be in five years’ time? You wonder will there be this big broadcasting activity that is RTÉ, even in ten years’ time. The whole model is changing. Big audience models are changing.”

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