GAA delegates in Kerry voiced their opposition to the Sky Sports deal at a sitting of the county board committee meeting last night, with one member declaring "the only sky we have is the sky over our heads".
The GAA’s decision to award Sky exclusive rights to 14 matches this summer has not sat well with many of the association’s members.
“Now some people are aware of Sky and have it,” Willie Goggin from Ballinskelligs told the meeting. “But back where I come from, the only sky we have is the sky over our heads.
“It’s a crazy decision because the first thing they should have done was to consult the county boards and work from the bottom up, not the top down. Old people will be badly affected and what happens if it’s Kerry and Dublin, in the All-Ireland quarter-final, and it’s only on Sky? It’s then the fun will start.”
His concern was echoed by Kilcummin delegate Dermot Moynihan, who said the deal was a “disgrace”.
He added: “There was no prior discussion on it, it was decided on by Croke Park without consultation with its stakeholders – which to me are its clubs. Personally I think that there should have been a motion at Congress, the same as when Croke Park was opened for commercial reasons to other sports , and members got to have their say.
“We are forgetting about the grassroots, the people who put out the flags, who line the pitches and keep the clubs going, without getting a single cent. We are now telling them that they will have to go to their local pub if they want to see some games. We spent years trying to rid the association of drinks sponsorship and what are we doing now? We are driving the young and old back into the pubs again to see our games.”
Central council delegate Eamonn O’Sullivan supported the deal and said “all” younger playing members and those abroad favoured the deal.
“If the deal with Sky was brought up at Congress or a motion was passed and we said no, it is obvious who the real winners would be,” he said.”You cannot negotiate a commercially sensitive deal in public. I have no idea what money the Sky deal involves but it will benefit the association.
“Not too many people appear interested in the qualifiers anyway and most county boards not so long ago felt that too many live games were affecting domestic club fixtures. So I am all in favour of it, all our young playing members are in favour, our people abroad are in favour, and it will interesting to see what a worldwide Sky audience’s take on an All -Ireland final will be, when both sets of fans sit side by side.”
He also insisted that “central council delegates were in the dark just as much as you were about this Sky deal”.
Chairman Patrick O Sullivan urged those who do not support the deal to park their frustration for now and cast judgment at the end of the current contract with Sky. “It has now been decided by Croke Park, it is a three-year deal and it cannot be changed,” he said. “We will see how it works and after the three years, we as a county will give our opinion on it, and it will be relayed to Croke Park.”