Sky signs €3m grassroots deal with GAA

Five-year deal aims to reduce drop-out rate from the sport among young GAA players

Rachel Wyse with the Liam Mac Carthy and Sam Maguire Cups.

Rachel Wyse with the Liam Mac Carthy and Sam Maguire Cups.

 

Broadcaster Sky Sports is to invest €3 million over the next five years into a number of grassroots initiatives organised by the GAA.

The pay TV group will launch the GAA Super Games Centres (SGCs) on September 21st. These are aimed at reducing the drop-out rate among 12 to 21 year olds in both football and hurling.

The GAA plans to host 154 SGCs around the country between September and May for both boys and girls.

Up to 25 children will be involved in each centre with the GAA seeking to attract 3,500 participants in year one, and Sky planning to top 20,000 over the five years.The kids will be provided with kits and equipment.

Commenting on the sponsorship, Neal O’Rourke, Sky Ireland’s financial director, said: “This is going to be an opportunity to mix genders. The Super Games Centres are going to be held all around the country. Both rural and urban. This is really about getting kids out there playing games, but not necessarily focusing on winning.”

In addition, Sky is to partner with the GAA to host its annual one-day youth forum for the same age range. It will take place this year at Croke Park on October 28th.

Conference

Sky is also backing the GAA’s two-day games development conference, involving more than 800 leading grassroots coaches, who will come together in January for workshops and seminars.

It is understood that former Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley, a pundit on Sky’s golf coverage and a self-confessed GAA fan, is being lined up for this event.

This sponsorship follows Sky’s renewal of its live rights with the GAA for five years out to 2021. This allows it to show 14 games a season and has proved controversial with many GAA members.

“For us, the GAA investment has been fantastic,” Mr O’Rourke said, adding that the recent launch of Now TV means fans can buy game passes for €10. “There’s no contract with that, there’s no commitment to Sky and we believe that’s made the games more accessible. If this wasn’t working for us we would be reinvesting in rights and we certainly wouldn’t be launching this sponsorship.”

Nielsen figures show Sky’s average audience for its GAA games this season is about 40,000 viewers, up about 11 per cent on 2016. This does not include high-definition viewing, those using Sky Go or Now TV, or those watching in pubs and clubs.