The GAA are preparing counties on how to monetise their club championships via live streaming should matches have to be played behind closed doors or in front of severely restricted crowds.
Croke Park held a virtual convention with all counties a number of weeks ago to encourage them to make provisions for streaming games on their official websites later in the year.
Media right holders such as RTÉ, TG4 and Eir will be interested in picking up high-profile club games. For those they don’t, county boards have been briefed to ready themselves to commission companies to broadcast games on their behalf.
With championships providing significant revenue streams for counties, any shortfall due to no or limited attendances will be detrimental to the annual accounts.
Croke Park has outlined to counties how they could make the games available for a small subscription or even a package for a certain amount of fixtures if possible.
“If it’s not possible to charge people at the gate and the game goes ahead then the logical step is to ask for a fee to watch the game online,” said one senior county official. “You would charge x amount of euros and at least you would be able to generate some revenue. Right now, counties have zero income.”
With it looking increasingly likely that county championships will be played on a knock-out basis over a period of six to eight weeks, the amount of fixtures counties will be able to make available will be significantly less.
That will be a massive blow for the likes of Galway who took in €1.2848 million last year ahead of Cork (€788,164), Limerick (€713,692), Clare (€606,447) and Kerry (€513,674). Tipperary’s total of €464,128 didn’t include its county hurling final double-header although it and Waterford’s figure of €306,992 incorporates loyalty schemes.
A number of counties such as Armagh and Limerick have led the way in streaming games, while the Cork County Board last year worked with the Irish Examiner to provide live coverage of matches.
Counties are making tentative steps towards reorganising their club championships over a limited timeframe in August and September. However, the advisory group could yet recommend that the inter-county championships be played first as there are fewer players involved.
Wexford have put forward the idea of a 10-week championship schedule but it has been suggested by sources close to the Central Competitions Control Committee that there may only be a two-month window to complete programmes, which would pose a difficulty for dual counties.
Mayo competitions control committee chairman Con Moynihan has also spoken out against knock-out formats - “There will be no knock-out championship – there isn’t an appetite for it,” he said last week. “You can’t ask players to train for a number of weeks for one game, we don’t think it would be fair on them.”
However, it may be the case that unless matches are also played midweek the formats across the board might have to be sudden death.
Meanwhile, a number of GAA clubs have begun to operate at limited capacity. Cork’s Erins Own are providing a call and collect option for those members within 5km of its grounds seeking to purchase from the club shop.
While keeping the grounds closed, orders have been collected from outside the door of the clubhouse at an allocated time after payment is made over the phone.
From last Friday, Thomas Davis club in South Dublin made available a takeaway menu from its restaurant. It also operates on a call and collect basis with card payment only and the service provided in restricted opening hours.