As GAA chiefs put the finishing touches on a fresh TV rights deal with interested parties, Association President Aogán Ó Fearghaíl has insisted that “there is no automatic right for everybody to see every game.”
The GAA will soon announce whether they will extend their partnership with Sky Sports, as Ó Fearghaíl conceded that RTÉ were the big winners in the last broadcast carve-up, writes Jackie Cahill.
The Sky Sports deal continues to come in for criticism from those who feel that all games should be shown on a free-to-air basis.
Ó Fearghaíl commented: “I have said this before, I’ll say it again, there is no such thing as a Sky deal, there’s a media deal, and the big winners in the last deal certainly were RTÉ.
“Our biggest thing is always to make sure that people are at a match.
“Without the attendances we have difficulty, so there is no automatic right for anyone to see every single game.
“We have to always make sure that we can have as many games as possible where people can see them, but that’s the environment that we work within. “So, there is no conclusion, no finality yet to the next deal.”
Meanwhile, Ó Fearghaíl indicated that Croke Park top brass will deliberate on the proposed senior football championship reforms in November at Central Council level.
He explained: “We’ve given them to counties and asked them for their feedback. This has really been a two-year process.
“We asked them last year to think about things themselves and they now realise how difficult it is to actually come up with anything that's beneficial and that everybody will welcome.
“They now have a set of proposals in front of them and that's absolutely definite.
“They have a few months now to think about it and what we're going to ask them to do in November is, can they agree to put this as a motion to Congress? “Only Congress can decide. Central Council can't change the format. So what I'll be expecting Central Council to do is, can they agree that this will go forward as a set of motions to Congress? And if they agree that in November then it'll be a runner at Congress Clár.”
Ó Fearghaíl also expressed his relief that the long-running dispute between the GAA and the management committee of the Irish Handball centre has come to an end.
The saga had centred around plans to revamp the Handball and community centre close to Croke Park, with Ó Fearghaíl revealing that an estimated €12m will be spent on the project.
He also indicated that there is not yet an “appetite” for the introduction of further technology to aid match officials, other than the existing HawkEye system currently in operation at Croke Park and Semple Stadium.
Ó Fearghaíl said: “Anything that slows down the tempo of the game is something that I personally, and I think the GAA generally, would be slow to move towards and I don’t think there’s an appetite yet for video referees at other levels than what we currently have.”