have your say
GAA's amateur status a big lie
It shouldn't come as any great surprise that the GAA has done a deal with Sky Sports for the exclusive rights to 14 games. TV3 has promoted and supported the GAA for many years but it will not be able to show any live games for at least the next three years.
The GAA hierarchy has stated one of the main reasons for selling the exclusive rights to 14 of its games is that Sky will be able to transmit them to the diaspora in the UK, US, Australia etc.
The GAA will also receive a huge amount of money from Sky and a substantial amount will be ploughed back into clubs and county boards. However, a lot of this money will filter down into the pockets of managers, players etc. Your reporter Marie Crowe [April 17, 2011] wrote about the annual Congress where the former president of the GAA Christy Cooney condemned the culture of payments to managers and he said it is like a cancer running through the organisation. Another one of your reporters, Dermot Crowe [Mar 6, 2011], did an interview with Liam O'Neill and he stated the amount of money paid to managers was staggering. Jerome Reilly [November 2012] wrote that former president Nickey Brennan confirmed that some managers in Gaelic games are receiving "off the books" payments for their roles. Mr Brennan said if the GAA was to form a tribunal to investigate the payments, it would be bigger than any other seen in the State. Ger Loughnane stated: "In every county all over the country, managers are being paid, whether at club level or inter county level. To say otherwise is just a pretence."
Some GAA players are also being paid as has been pointed out in 'From the Stands' [Oct 14, 2012], which stated that the top inter-county players train like professionals, play like professionals and some of them, probably more than you realise, are even paid like professionals. Many players, be it at inter-county or club level, receive cash lump sums, cars etc, and receive exorbitant amounts masked as expenses. These are tax-free as well and many payments are made by wealthy people to the players and managers.
The GAA receives money from Government for the provision of paid full-time coaches and for capital expenditure.
It should also be remembered that former president Seán McCague announced at annual Congress that Bertie Ahern was making a grant of €76m towards the redevelopment of Croke Park. Governments and Lottery have made other huge grants towards the redevelopment. Despite receiving all this money, the GAA charged the FAI and IRFU €1.25m for EVERY game they played at Croke Park while Lansdowne Road was being redeveloped. This was disgraceful. The GAA does a lot of good and it continually states that it is an amateur organisation but it patently isn't as I have outlined above. It reminds me of the film Jerry Maguire where Cuba Gooding Jr tells Tom Cruise to "show me the money".
Don't leave true fans out in the cold
I agree with Colm O'Rourke's article ['GAA has sold its soul to line Murdoch's pockets', Apr 6]. The GAA have a duty to support the people who will be disenfranchised by this deal.
In the future we will see more Sky coverage and less free-to-air – 14 games is just the start. In 2017, they will want 28 games plus quarter-finals, semi-finals and All-Ireland finals. Once Sky get a foothold in the game they can dictate the the time and change the date of the game at short notice. Imagine the All-Ireland final starting at 5.0pm instead of 3.30 – there would be outrage. They have already done this with the FA Cup final.
Okay, they are good at other sports they cover like golf, cricket, rugby, but what will happen to the supporters who cannot afford the €30 a month? Currently less than 20pc of Irish homes have Sky. They will have to head to the pub to watch games while the GAA is mounting initiatives about the dangers of alcohol. Some local clubs are hanging on by their fingernails financially. I hope some of the money can filter down to the grassroots of the GAA. Don't leave the supporters out in the cold.
Toulon looked fit enough to me, Neil
Neil Francis' theory that "Irish players are fitter than their counterparts in the Top 14 who cannot handle the ferocity and intensity of exchanges at the breakdown once it goes to multiphase" was consigned to the bin after the demolishing of Leinster by Toulon.
I'm sure Stephen Armitage, Fernandez Lobbe and Carl Hayman would be amused if they had read this last Sunday morning over toast and poached eggs.
Toulon may be the Man City of rugby with their all-star line-up, but they will be hard to dethrone as champions. Twenty-one players who played some part in the victory were non-French and with Bryan Habana to come back in, it will be a big ask for Munster.
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