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GAA Football

Gaelfast will be money well spent says director general Tom Ryan

GAA director general Tom Ryan
Andy Watters

NEW Director General Tom Ryan says he’ll be watching carefully to ensure that the million pounds the GAA is pumping into Belfast is money well spent.

Ryan, facing the Irish media for the first time since he was appointed to succeed Paraic Duffy as Ard Stiurthoir, said he was confident that the ambitious ‘Gaelfast’ stimulus package would prove to be a worthwhile investment.

The GAA will spend the money on developing Gaelic Games in the city over the next five years.

“First of all, it is needed,” said Carlow native Ryan, who previously served as the GAA’s Director of Finance.

“It’s the second city on the island and it behoves us to make sure that gaelic games is in a healthy state there.

“The plan was launched last week and it’s going to be money well spent.

“I think we’ll be watching it carefully over the next three or four years to make sure that it is the case.”

One of the arguments made for the lack of participation in Gaelic Games in Belfast has been the GAA’s decision to allow some Championship games to be screened on the Sky Sports pay-per-view platform.

Ryan pointed out that the vast majority of All-Ireland Championship games are broadcast on free-to-air channels. He argued that the GAA would be unable to fund developments – like the one in Belfast - without the revenue that deals with Sky Sports and other organisations had brought in.

“There are 140-150 matches over the course of the year of which I think 17 are exclusively in the pay-per-view arena,” he said at Croke Park yesterday.

“There is a little bit of perspective in those numbers.

“If we’re going to put out 200-300 coaches around the country in a year and if we’re going to spend five or six million on capital projects, we need to bring in that income.

“I’m always more concerned with what we do with the money as opposed to where we take it from because I think there is a natural balance in things in the GAA at the moment and I hope people will recognise that we don’t operate in an environment where everything that we have is for sale. We don’t do that.

“We go into the market, for want of a better word, with a view of generating a fair and reasonable income with which to fund the things that we are obliged to provide.

“If we were to curtail things, then that means by definition we have to curtail what we’re doing in terms of expansion and ambition.

“We try very, very hard to make sure that the vast majority of what we bring in is distributed out, so if we were to recalibrate things it would have an impact locally.

“This year you’re going to see Pearse Park in Longford being developed and those are the things that would take longer to do, be done on a smaller scale or not be done at all (without bringing in money).

“We’re not pursuing income from any partner for the sake of pursuing that income.”

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