Fianna Fáil Sport spokesperson Timmy Dooley has expressed his disappointment at the deal reached between the GAA and Sky Sports for the rights to broadcast Championship matches. The deal will give the subscription channel exclusive rights to 14 matches, including the two All-Ireland football quarter-finals involving the Leinster and Ulster champions.
“It’s the first time in the history of broadcasting that GAA fans will be expected to pay to watch games on television. All Irish people should be afforded the right to watch the national game free of charge on the national broadcaster, once they have paid their licence fee. That right has been effectively taken away from them with this deal. Restricting these events will mean fewer people will have a chance to see them. People are already under pressure with high taxes and reduced salaries and many will find it next to impossible to find an additional €64 a month to pay for a Sky subscription”, commented Deputy Dooley.
“Despite the fact the GAA maintains this three year agreement was not driven by financial gain, the rationale behind the move must be questioned. Surely the decision to sell the matches to a subscription service goes against the GAA’s amateur ethos.
“The Government should be intervening to protect the rights of the ordinary person. If the Government fails to address and rectify this issue it could have a serious negative impact on the range of sporting events available on free to air channels.
“I’m concerned that older people will suffer because of this deal. For many these games are the focal point of their weekend, and now they will be forced to either pay for a subscription or go to a pub to watch these matches. The Government needs to stand up for its citizens and ensure that our national game is made available to all our citizens and not sold off as a commercial entity”, added the Clare TD.
“Sport is at the heart of thousands of communities across the country. The announcement of this deal has angered and upset many people within those communities. GAA players across the country put in hundreds of hours of hard work and toil to represent their local club and county. They put in all that time and effort, with the support of volunteers, for the love of the game and the pride of wearing the jersey, and they do it all for free. This deal goes against everything grass roots GAA players and supporters represent”.