Roscommon pass motion calling for end to pay-per-view TV deal

December 12, 2017

A Roscommon flag celebrates a score.
©INPHO/Ryan Byrne.

By Declan Rooney

Delegates at last night's Roscommon GAA convention unanimously passed a motion calling on the GAA to neither renew nor enter a new pay-per-view TV deal, which will be put to Congress in the New Year.

The motion, which was put forward by Boyle GAA club, received no opposition and was one of just two motions debated at the county's annual convention at the Abbey Hotel in Roscommon Town.

Last year the GAA signed a new five-year extension to their television contract with Sky Sports, which is due to end in 2022, and should the Roscommon motion be passed at GAA Convention in February, it could be the last such deal.

Boyle's motions states: 'That Cumman Luth Chleas Gael do not renew nor enter contracts with television companies that require pay per view, for coverage of our national games after the current contract expires'.

Speaking on the motion, Boyle GAA Club delegate, Mary Clifford, said her fellow club members were keen to see the GAA's relationship with Sky Sports end in order to make all inter-county games free to air again.

"The purpose of the motion is to ensure that television coverage of our games is available free to air to everyone who has access to a television," said Ms Clifford.

"The most recent deal done with the GAA and Sky Sports covers five season from 2017 until 2021. This deal is reported to be worth 55 million. That's 11 million per annum.

"Viewing numbers were very small and that's one of the reasons we wanted this proposed. That fact that Sky Sports have exclusive rights to 14 of our championship games deprives our generous supporters, particularly the elderly people.

"The GAA is an organisation representing every parish in Ireland and we always hear so much about social exclusion, and the way television rights are going we won't be seeing our games."

After winning their first Connacht senior title since 2010 Roscommon reported a surplus of €211,851 in 2017, but their chairman has warned they will need to tighten their belts in the years ahead to avoid serious financial problems.

Earlier in 2017 Roscommon GAA availed of assistance from GAA headquarters in an effort to improve their financial systems and an interim financial committee was put in place, which included Connacht Council and Croke Park representatives.

A deficit of €130,042 reported in 2016, but this year because of improved sponsorship income - which increased by more than €35,000 in 2017 - no Connacht champions trip to New York and another €106,409 shaved off on medical expenses a surplus was returned.

But the chairman insisted the figures are slightly deceiving considering the county received an advance on Croke Park grants, which will have to be made up next year.

"During the year we had to deal with serious financial issues & there is at present an Interim Finance Committee with assistance from Croke Park working with us to resolve these difficulties," said Roscommon GAA chairman, Seamus Sweeney.

"The accounts will show that while there is a surplus shown this year, the fact is, that we have received an advance of Croke Park grants which means we will not receive these grants in 2018 & part of 2019. We will have to make up this shortfall in the next two years."

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