Scale of Dublin AIG sponsorship deal puts All-Ireland champions in different league
Dublin chairman Andy Kettle plays down sum as county now covering all codes
Dublin players after winning the All-Ireland final. “I really wouldn’t see why other counties would be worried about a deal like this,” said Andy Kettle. Photograph: Inpho
If the scale of Dublin’s new sponsorship deal with US insurance giant AIG – worth at least €4 million over the next five years – didn’t ring some alarm bells with rival counties then the timing of it certainly did, at least in Kildare.
Club delegates were gathering in Newbridge on Tuesday evening to ratify Jason Ryan as new Kildare football manager for 2014, and just as they were taking their seats, word came through that Dublin would be supported through to 2018 with the sort of financial backing that most other counties can merely dream of.
Against that backdrop, Ryan was ratified for a one-year term – to be renewed after 2014 – and with that set out to do what Kieran McGeeney couldn’t do after a six-year term, and beat Dublin to the Leinster football title. If money is at least one of the roots of success then Kildare’s task of beating Dublin, like everyone else in the country, has not been made any easier.
Yet according to Kildare chairman John McMahon it’s all relative, if only in the financial sense: this time last year, Kildare lost long-term sponsors, Tegral, and were several months searching for a replacement before signing a new deal with Brady Family Ham. A fully Irish-owned company, established in 1978 and based in Timahoe, Brady Family Ham might lack the global profile of AIG, which offers insurance products in over 160 countries and battles for position on the New York Stock Exchange, but according to McMahon, it’s as good as it gets for a county like Kildare.
So while some Kildare delegates spoke with apparent concern about Dublin’s new deal, McMahon spoke yesterday about the reality of it all. “No, I wouldn’t use the word ‘concern’,” said McMahon. “There was just a general comment, at our meeting, that the news had just broken. And fair play to Dublin, who have the profile to attract that sort of sponsorship, and every other county in the country would be looking to raise their profile in the same way, and attract as good a sponsorship deal as possible.”
Naturally, McMahon declined to reveal the exact financial worth of the Kildare sponsorship (“commercially sensitive” being the standard response); nor was he willing to reveal how long the deal would run for, other than the fact Kildare were glad to have it. “Yes, that’s between ourselves and our sponsors. But certainly the market has tightened, that’s the reality. Sponsors have to be looked after, have to be nurtured, and from a Kildare point of view, we certainly try to do what we can for our sponsors, look after them, and hope our relationship can continue.
“Now, it is a substantial sum of money going Dublin’s way, but it’s not our business to worry about what sponsorship arrangements other counties might have. This certainly gives Dublin a lot of leeway to do what other counties would aspire to do. But again, we’re perfectly happy with our sponsor. Kildare still aspire to be at the same level of success as Dublin, and that’s something we’ll still try to achieve.”