GAA matches on Sky not fair play
IHAVE to say I was a quite surprised when I heard at the weekend that the GAA was in talks with Sky about the airing of hurling and football matches on TV. Rumours were rife that the GAA was selling out to Sky and that sports fans across the country would, for the first time ever, have to pay to watch their GAA teams in action this summer
While the reality isn't quite as dramatic - it's believed RTE and Sky will share the rights to the majority of the matches, including the All Ireland final - it is nonetheless going to anger many GAA fans who will ultimately miss out on certain games unless they pay a subscription to Sky Sports.
It may only be a handful of games that Sky will have exclusive rights to, but for die hard GAA fans it's a handful too many.
Take the fans - particularly the elderly - who are quite happy with their three or four free-to-air channels and like nothing more than sitting down on a Sunday to watch their team in action. I can't imagine they'll be too impressed having to fork out a monthly subscription to Sky to watch GAA.
'Can't they just go to the pub and watch it?' some people might argue. But I know several hurling and football fans who wouldn't even contemplate going to the local to watch a GAA match. Nor should they have to.
Then of course there's the whole issue of how much pubs are being charged for their subscription - far more than a private subscriber . I heard a figure of over EURO 600 per month being bandied about.
As the industry continues to struggle, particularly in rural areas, an annual subscription of over €7,000 simply isn't an option for the majority of small pub owners.
However the GAA will try to play it down and convince fans that exposure of our national game abroad can only be a good thing, selling the rights to some games is not a clever move from a PR point of view.
It's a money making exercise, obviously, but it's a bitter pill for dedicated fans to swallow considering the GAA's latest accounts show that the organisation took in almost €1m per week in 2012.
It's one thing to ask fans to pay at the turnstiles, but surely it's a step too far to ask armchair viewers to do the same?
GAA fans could be hit with TV subscription charges to watch some of this year's All-Ireland championship games.