Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 27 May 2015

GAA bid to block Aldi footballs

Croke Park chiefs have moved to block the Aldi supermarket chain from using the GAA brand to promote sports gear due to go on sale today.

Aldi advertised items aimed specifically at GAA players but Croke Park objected to the description of the sliotars and footballs.

"Conforms to GAA specification", ran the Aldi strapline, thus creating the impression that the balls had the GAA's official imprimatur which, according to the director of games, Pat Daly, was not the case.

"Aldi have agreed to remove 'conforms with GAA specifications' from current online and any promotional or instore marketing material and have given a guarantee that they will not publish anything implying that future products have been tested and approved by the GAA.

"We are not in a position to stop Aldi -- or any other store -- from selling sliotars, Gaelic footballs, etc if they are not implying any endorsement or approval by the GAA," said Mr Daly.

Some 20 sliotar suppliers have been officially approved by the GAA but it's understood Aldi's suppliers are not among them. Mr Daly said that the aim was to ensure standardisation of sliotars, in particular, to ensure that insofar as it was possible there would be uniformity throughout the country.

In order to achieve that the GAA have licensed suppliers so that quality can be maintained. Mr Daly said that otherwise the market could become flooded with cheap, low-quality sliotars which weren't fit for purpose.

"We are currently working with the engineering department in DCU on the production of a standardised core for sliotars and the intention -- from a quality control perspective -- is that suppliers will only be approved on the basis that they use this core," Mr Daly said.

"The research element of this project is due to be rolled out in September."

Aldi officials, however, said the company never intended to claim that the balls were endorsed by the GAA.

"Sourced from an Irish supplier with strong ties to hurling, the balls are of a very high quality and are manufactured overseas to available GAA specifications.

"Aldi does not claim that the balls are official GAA products or in any way endorsed by the GAA," a spokesman told the Irish Independent last night.

"Aldi is confident that customers will be extremely happy with the sports equipment purchased but they can avail of Aldi's 28-day returns policy on any items they are dissatisfied with," he added.

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