CATHAL MacSUIBHNE: SKY MONEY SHOULD GO TO SUPPORT CLUBS, BUT GAA DID DEAL FOR WRONG REASONS

first_imgYou’ll need one of these to see 14 GAA gamesBY DONEGAL DAILY ANALYST CATHAL MacSUIBHNE: The GAA and Sky: Sell Out or Good for our Games?On page 180 of the GAA’s Constitution, the following statement defines the lowest outlet of the association, oft described as its most important facet and indeed its bedrock, “The Club is amateur and non-profit making in status. Any surplus income or gains shall be reinvested in the Club, and there shall not be any distribution of Club assets, in cash or in kind, to members or third parties.”Fair enough. Working from the lowest level up then surely the entire association is amateur and non-profit making? If this is the case, then the new television deal with multi-national broadcasting giant Sky is a hugely positive development for the GAA. It will mean more revenue, more exposure, more promotion and going by the constitution it will mean more money for your local club. Or will it?There’s been plenty of debate on the subject over recent days and until we start seeing games during the summer and until we see the GAA’s balance sheet we won’t know for sure the impact of the deal.Of course the GAA has received large sums of revenue from its previous and existing broadcast rights holders but why threaten to upset the grassroots of the association for the same level of finance as has been there already?With this in mind, it can be assumed that the Sky deal surely trumps the previous TV3 one vastly, otherwise why bother? Personally from the actual broadcasting perspective I’m looking forward to seeing what Sky has to offer.The professionalism, style and ingenuity they bring to sports coverage is to be admired although putting a Pat Spillane-esque figure in front of a ‘SkyPad’ like Jamie Redknapp or Will Greenwood might be a step too far for the moment.At the minute RTE, TG4, Setanta and BBC provide excellent coverage on our games but Sky will surely raise the bar and bring even more to the analytical side of matches.We’ll also have new presenters, new pundits, new studio layout and new features with which to watch our coverage.Also, they might be able to add something different to the GAA’s idea of half-time entertainment; at times it can be cringe-worthy, with last year’s unveiling of the new GAA mascot (an Irish Terrier named Fionn, just in case you didn’t know) at Croke Park during the All-Ireland Semi-Final a classic example. Us Ulster Gaels might even be spared the predictable criticism that comes the way of our footballers whenever Pat and Colm are on the airwaves – we might get something new instead of the usual ‘typical Ulster defensive’ football regardless of score line or the quality of fayre on offer or the ‘playing football the way it should be played’ guff when any of the traditional aristocrats are in action.So this is all well and good if you happen to be a Sky Sports subscriber or if you don’t mind paying to get the extra matches.But for many people this may not be an option.A Sky Sports package will set you back something like €50 per month depending on what package you choose and with only three to four exclusive games to be shown a month that’s a lot of money per game. The GAA’s main argument in defending their decision to effectively choose Sky Sports over TV3 is that it will widen their audience abroad and make it easier for the Irish overseas to see their national games – for me this just doesn’t wash.As part of the latest round of TV deals, all matches that are televised this side of the world are shown free to air in Australia, by an Australian company. So Gaels at home have to pay for around 1/5 of live games every year while anyone living Down Under gets the lot for free.Matches will also be widely available in the US while for the past four years UK firm, Premier Sports, offered matches to ex-pats in Britain for a set monthly fee of £9.99 (a lot cheaper than a Sky package).So the only change there is that Sky will cost more for those living in the UK. The GAA also announced that RTE will provide an enhanced digital online service allowing those abroad to see more games via their website – why then the need for Sky?The obvious reasoning is that this deal is about money; nothing wrong with that except for the fact that we saw earlier that the GAA are not a profit-making organisation, at least they’re not meant to be.Approximately 80% of income is said to be put back into clubs and counties around the country – if this continues then its boom-time for clubs but as Manus Boyle said last week, he doesn’t recall any entry in the Killybegs’ club accounts stating a figure received from Croke Park; I’d say he’s not the only one.Generally clubs only receive money from Croke Park if they are building facilities or upgrading grounds – why not give every club in Ireland a set amount on the back of the investment coming from Sky?While it is great that clubs can get access to funds for capital projects, many rely on lotto income, membership receipts and small-scale fundraising just to stay afloat – why can’t they receive some money even if it is not going to be spent on a big capital undertaking? They could treat their members to playing gear, a trip away, clear some debt or do whatever they see fit.Taking all the viewpoints into consideration, the Sky deal shouldn’t be that much of a change for Gaels up and down the country, or around the world. Many other supposed apocalyptic changes have taken place within the organisation such as the removal of ‘The Ban’ or the opening up of Croke Park and we still have the GAA as strong as ever, if not stronger.However, deep down I think a lot of Gaels feel an uneasiness about the Sky deal; there are plenty of plus points and what is not in question is that the GAA has never been better run and its leadership is first class. All in all though the gut feeling is, this deal has been struck for the wrong reasons.CATHAL MacSUIBHNE: SKY MONEY SHOULD GO TO SUPPORT CLUBS, BUT GAA DID DEAL FOR WRONG REASONS was last modified: April 8th, 2014 by John2Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:Cathal MacSuibhneGAASky deallast_img read more

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