The GAA say charity logos will still be allowed to appear on jerseys – but only if they are registered as a designated shirt sponsor at the start of the year.
However, counties will no longer be permitted to accede to requests for one-off changes mid-season to promote a charity or local cause.
The decision of Central Council last weekend to “prohibit the promotion of charities, campaigns etc on playing gear,” was met with confusion and seen as an example of over regulation.
The GAA statement added: “It was felt that there are other ways to promote these without modifying playing gear.”
It has been criticised by some as needless meddling. However, the GAA say a significant increase in requests from county boards in recent times made it clear a different approach was required in relation to the subject and that clear protocols were now necessary to address the sphere of special charity jersey sponsorships.
“The new protocols have been devised in an effort to help us and our counties to ensure consistency in what non-GAA messaging appears on county playing jerseys, and when,” said GAA spokesperson Alan Milton, in a statement to The Irish Times.
“It is not an attempt to stymie the support of good causes – far from it.
“However, in light of the large number of requests in the last number of years – which have been wide and varied in their nature – we have taken the view that there are many other ways that our county committees can lend their support to worthy causes without tampering with their playing attire mid-season.
“Training gear or leisure wear is not covered under this new protocol and supports via social, digital and ambassador (promotions) are but a few of the options open to our counties if they have a desire to support a local or national cause.”
Several counties, including Dublin, Cork and Mayo have facilitated applications from charitable organisations in recent years, granting one-off permissions for branding to appear on their intercounty senior team’s jersey.
Such deals required the agreement of the actual sponsor to hand over their real estate on the jersey for a designated game. Examples of this include Dublin sporting jerseys carrying Aoibheann’s Pink Tie and Support 4 Drummo.
Such short-term arrangements will no longer be allowed, but if a company or individual agrees sponsorship at the outset of a season and are happy to hand over that branding space to a charity for the year, then once it was successfully registered with the GAA that would be acceptable.
The official guide states: ‘A sponsor’s brand name(s), distinctive marks or logo shall not be displayed on jerseys, tracksuits and kitbags unless in accordance with an officially approved sponsorship agreement.’
Sponsorship plans must be registered with the governing body at the start of the year and satisfy certain stipulations including not exceeding 350 square centimetres.
Recognising intercounty playing gear as potential billboards has increased the number of organisations looking to use the profile of teams as a conduit to increase awareness of their cause and help fundraising drives.
The GAA has been keen to remain apolitical on issues, but it has not always been an easy tightrope to walk.
The Enough is Enough campaign, spearheaded by Tyrone GAA, was formed to bring about progress on getting work started on the A5, but centrally Croke Park has been reluctant to get involved.
Late last year, Mayo sought to have rainbow-coloured numbers on their jerseys for National League games, but the GAA refused permission.
Charities have been exploring innovative ways of raising their profile and Croí, the west of Ireland Heart and Stroke charity, recently partnered with a Mayo GAA club and a local businessman to have their logo appear as a sponsor on the Naomh Pádraig jersey.
Naomh Pádraig, which is an amalgamation of Lacken, Ballycastle, Kilfian and Killala, have juvenile teams from under-7s to under-21s.
Padraig Mitchell, who owns of Healy’s Bar in Ballycastle, sponsored jerseys for the club this year but the official guide prohibits alcohol-related sponsorships of underage teams. Padraig – along with Naomh Pádraig member Barry Cox, who suffered a stroke seven years ago – arranged for the sponsorship space on the jersey to be used by Croí.
There had been fears such arrangements would be in jeopardy because of Central Council’s decision last weekend, but the GAA say that is not the case and the intention of the new protocols are to focus primarily on ending one-off arrangements with regards intercounty jerseys.