Earley’s call to share sponsorship

GAA president Liam O'Neill and former president Sean Kelly  with the European Citizen's medal after the GAA  was announced as winner of the European Citizen's Prize 2013. Picture: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Dermot Earley believes the GAA should consider pooling individual sponsorship deals made by county boards and sharing the spoils in a more equitable fashion.

Dublin’s deal with AIG is believed to be worth in the region of €4m over five years and it follows on the back of a similarly-sized partnership with Vodafone that ended late this year. The reality for the rest is less bright.

Many counties have struggled to find a backer for the jersey and Earley was part of a Kildare team in recent years that had to run numerous fund-raising activities in order to make ends meet.

“It’s huge,” said the former All Star of the task of matching the All-Ireland champions. “Dublin are the showroom team. They have a huge amount of followers …. That’s the way it is, what can you do about it?

“Maybe one of the options would be to pool sponsorship and divvy it out evenly. You are still paying the money to get your name on the jersey but maybe sponsorship could be pooled and split up. How can a team who get €15,000 a year compete with a team that get whatever Dublin get? Fair play to that. Fair play to Dublin for going out and chasing that and getting it. But it might have to be looked at. The gap will widen.”

The chronic back problems that forced his retirement from inter-county football this year have eased enough to allow the midfielder feature for Sarsfields in tomorrow’s county final against Newbridge rivals Moorefield.

Looking on will be new Kildare manager Jason Ryan whose appointment was welcomed by Earley, despite his assertion that the county should never have waved farewell to Kieran McGeeney. Earley was speaking at the launch of Newstalk’s coverage of the upcoming International Rules Series which will start today week in Cavan, the day before the Donegal county final in which Irish captain Michael Murphy is also due to feature, for Glenswilly.

The refusal of the county board to facilitate their All-Ireland-winning skipper by changing their own date shows once again the obstacles over which the compromise game must habitually hop in order to stay alive.

“The international series is a bonus to us,” said GAA president Liam O’Neill. ” We have to say that. Our games are our games and at the end of the day we say the clubs are the most important unit in the association and sometimes you have to actually demonstrate that.”

O’Neill opted against commenting in any detail on today’s Central Council vote regarding the latest proposals to restructure the hurling leagues, as well as Wexford chairman Diarmuid Devereaux’s claims that there was a “dictatorship” in place in Croke Park. But the President insisted: “We consulted with the counties as part of the hurling. We wanted people to be able to express their views. We got some interesting suggestions out of that and we’ll talk about those at Central Council (today). Some of them (were) probably more far reaching than some of what is on the table (today).”

O’Neill had just accepted the European Citizens Award for 2013 on behalf of the GAA for “promoting enhanced mutual understanding and closer integration“. One of his predecessors, Seán Kelly, made the presentation.

Now an MEP, Kelly also revealed that the GAA was among the sporting bodies seeking to benefit from a new €330m fund established to facilitate projects such as those dealing with social inclusion and disadvantaged areas across Europe.


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