Saturday 16 December 2017

Politicians should listen to IRFU's 'real' financial wizards

Sean Diffley

Politics, as a wiseacre once proclaimed, is the art for looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedy.

And then there was that droll columnist, Art Buchwald: "I always wanted to get into politics, but I was never light enough to get in the team."

And you'll recall Field Marshall Montgomery wryly remarking that he spent much of his life fighting the Germans and fighting the politicians and "it was much easier fighting the Germans".

And if you think all this is leading up to a learned discourse on the contributions of the Minister for (lack) of Communications, Eamon Ryan, and his public-spirited 'free-to-air' campaign, you'd be right.

There are some who have expressed their reservations at the reception he received from the IRFU. Indeed, perhaps it would have been preferable if Philip Browne had confined himself to a brief message of the kind: "To hell with you. Offensive letter follows."

Not that Mr Ryan is alone among the 'eejits' in this serene, halcyon weekend of promising summer.

Step forward, too, Mr John Delaney of the FAI if you can spare the time as you journey to accept the freedom of the city of Limerick, or should that read Barcelona.

The FAI and Delaney have shown sheer genius in all their dealings -- not just Lansdowne Road -- for putting their foot in it.

I wonder if the IRFU are now viewing their decision to share the use of their ground with the soccer body, to be, at least, an unwise one.

Remember, the Lansdowne Road ground remains the property of the rugby union.

However, past decisions are past and as the supermarket keeps reminding us, there is no use crying over spilt milk.

As for Minister Ryan's dreams of a happy ending like Cinderella, unfortunately life is akin more to Dracula. It would, of course, be marvellous if we could watch all the big events on free TV and could dispense with the wealthy infusions of Sky Sports and its benevolent and saintly guru, Rupert Murdoch.

But the reality is that our professional game, and Irish rugby's current stellar role, would not survive without the big cheques. If we ban the infusions of Sky, we would sink into a backwater and the other countries -- who don't have their Minister Ryans -- wouldn't give a hoot about Ireland's difficulties.

England, France, Italy, Wales and Scotland would continue to accommodate Sky and benefit accordingly. And, remember, Minister Ryan's remit does not include Ulster, so, maybe, in desperation, we could form queues to watch TV in Newry!

As for the self-styled financial Dail deputies who doubt the amounts that Ryan's plans would jeopardise, the IRFU administrators are much more qualified than the people who have presided over the economic state of our country.

The IRFU honorary treasurer, for instance, is Tom Grace, who has retired from his highly-rated financial business.

So, put that in your pipe and smoke it, Minister Ryan.

Irish Independent

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