GAA Football

Debate on Sky deal is over says GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghail

GAA president Aogan O Fearghail. Picture by Mal McCann
From Cahair O'Kane in Loughmacrory

GAA President Aogán Ó Fearghail says that the “debate is over” regarding the issue of Sky Sports being awarded exclusive media rights to games.

The issue reared its head again two weeks ago when former Offaly hurler Michael Duignan launched an attack against the broadcaster on The Sunday Game.

There has been opposition to the deal since it was first introduced in 2014, but when a motion went before Congress in 2016 to return all matches to free-to-air support, it received just 15 per cent support.

Speaking at the launch of the All-Ireland football championship in Loughmacrory yesterday, Ó Fearghail suggested that the GAA would not budge when the next round of negotiations come up in 2021.

“We don’t get any criticism from counties or clubs. We are very open in the GAA; there are no bonuses accruing to anyone. I am a volunteer president.

“The media rights is about that all that can go in can go out. Do we want to go back to the day, which the GAA used to do, to pay a media provider to cover our games?

“Those days are all over so there is no debate. There were 30 votes at Congress against the media rights deal. The debate is over.

“I met with the other Irish sporting bodes six weeks ago and they all said the same thing to me. They said that they wished they were as relevant to Irish society as we were.

“That is just the reality; people will always have a view on the GAA. We have 750,000 members and we have probably 2 million who are interested so that is basically half the population.”

The president also refused to be drawn on what contingency plans the GAA has in place if the resubmitted application for planning permission for Casement Park is rejected later this year.

“We are focussed on Casement and we will wait and see and hopefully it will get a green light.”

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