Guinness could extend GAA sponsorship deal, says Kelly

SEAN KELLY has refused to rule out the possibility of Guinness extending its sponsorship of the All-Ireland hurling championship once the existing deal expires next season.

Though the agreement is one of the most successful sporting sponsorships in this country, the GAA has come under increasing pressure to drop the link with an alcohol company.

Last summer, the Associations’s Task Force on Alcohol and Substance Abuse recommended the GAA should limit such sponsorships “to two years, control advertising and branding around players and ultimately phase out this form of sponsorship.”

Kelly said the situation would be reviewed when speaking at the launch of the GAA/Departmernt of Health and Children’s alcohol and substance abuse initiative in Croke Park.

“We were told by the Task Force to renew the deal for two years and then call a stop to it. Eighty-five percent of people are happy with the impact that the Guinness sponsorship has had on hurling with campaigns like the Cúchulainn one this year.

“Diageo also have a drink sensibly campaign. It’s always surprising that people focus so much on Guinness because I don’t see too many other drink companies doing that. It’s an Irish company, a brand name and it employs 1,700 people. We have one year to go and we will make the right decision then.”

Meanwhile, Kelly will be seeking advice from AFL disciplinary chiefs on the GAA’s discipline structures when the Irish party land in Australia for the upcoming International Rules series.

Two years ago, the idea for the overhaul of the GAA’s disciplinary structures and the launching of a GAA Playstation game germinated from discussions with the AFL’s Discipline Tribunal chairman Brian Collis QC.

Though Collis has since left, the two associations will again discuss a number of matters including how the Australians conduct TV and advertising deals.

“It would be an opportunity for us to go and speak to the people we met down there and just tell them where we are at the moment and take stock because are doing a review ourselves at the moment.

“Any time you go, you go with an open mind because there are always things you will see that you haven’t seen before so you are bound to learn something.”

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