Farmers ‘annoyed’ over GAA deal with Sky
ICSA says rural community is concerned more matches will be designated as pay-per-view
GAA president Liam O’Neill said earlier this week the association must ensure it maintained a strong presence across a range of media outlets so that it could continue to fund their clubs. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho
Farmers are annoyed and worried about the future of viewing GAA championship matches in their homes following the association’s controversial deal with Sky media, the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association said today.
ICSA general secretary Eddie Punch said there was a high level complaints from its members regarding the GAA’s decision to sell exclusive rights for 14 championship games to Sky.
The GAA agreed a three-year-deal with the pay-per-view broadcaster this week allowing them to broadcast 14 games.
“Not being able to watch every match is a big thing for an awful lot of people,” he said.
“People are really annoyed and concerned this could get worse.”
Mr Punch said the GAA would be the main interest and hobby for many in the rural community.
“They are concerned it is all crumbling away from them. They fear is it 14 matches this year and maybe 18 the next.”
Mr Punch said although their members were big GAA fans, it was often very difficult during the summer months to attend the matches.
“The farming season is fierce busy same time the GAA championships,” he said.
“It’s not all that simple either for them to come in, get showered and go down to local pub. Things are too busy for them. What they tend to do is arrange their tea break around the time of the matches. So it doesn’t interfere with the pressure they’re under it.”
Mr Punch said it was particularly difficult for farmers with young families to travel to the matches on the day.
“It’s expensive and it can be a lot of hassle,” he said.
“They also have to organise someone to look after their stock or farm while they are gone. It’s all a lot of pressure to do it.”
“The enjoyment of watching the matches as a family together in their home will be gone.”
Mr Punch said “there was a bit of irritation” from the farming community especially since most would attend a high number of local games through the year.
“They are not happy about it at all and these are people who are committed GAA people,” he said.
Mr Punch said many of their members are concerned that despite their volunteer work with the GAA, they would miss out on matches unless they paid for the Sky package.
“What makes the GAA great is the huge voluntary effort that goes into it,” he said.
“There’s a sense of people in head quarters aren’t in tune with how people are feeling.
“People don’t mind paying going into a match because they feel going back into facilities etc, but with Sky it’s all commercial.”
“I’m getting the sense from calls we got, this will rumble on.”
Mr Punch said in some rural areas it was not possible to get a Sky reception.
GAA president Liam O’Neill said earlier this week the association must ensure it maintained a strong presence across a range of media outlets so that it could continue to fund their clubs.