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GAA want club deal for Sky games

By Cliona Foley

The GAA is negotiating with Sky Sports to see if they will do a special discounted subscription deal for clubs which would help ensure that their members don't miss out any of this summer's televised championship matches.

The Association has shipped a great deal of criticism in the past week for giving 14 of its championship games exclusively to the British subscription channel, but that clamour could lessen if a special sweetheart deal for GAA clubs could be struck.

That would certainly soften the blow as it would mean clubs could get discounted subscriptions and show the games in their clubhouses and members would not have to shell out personally for access.

The GAA's commercial director Peter McKenna has confirmed that negotiations are ongoing about the possibility of a discount for clubs.

"We will work with Sky and see if there are things we can do in terms of getting subscriptions for clubs and so forth," he said.

"All of these things are happening as we speak.

"We are working on it at the moment."

The Sky deal gave further ammunition to the critics who allege that the GAA has become more interested in commercial profits than its grassroots and it signed its latest sponsorship deal yesterday.

The fact that the Association is adding its name to the wrapper of a chocolate bar (Cadbury's Moro) could attract further criticism, especially from the health lobby, but the same company has been sponsoring the under-21 football championship for the past decade and the latest deal involves a competition that will offer two all-expenses-paid trips to Boston next autumn to watch the All Stars in action.

"Cadbury have been huge sponsors of the under-21s for years and they're huge employers in Coolock and have been for years," said McKenna .

"The Moro bar is the only one that is manufactured in Ireland. Chocolate is a treat and we shouldn't be so puritanical that the whole thought of having a treat should be taken away."

He said the GAA distributes €44m every year and needs commercial deals to maintain that.

"If we were to get a grant for €44m elsewhere we would do things differently, but that's unrealistic," McKenna added.

"We have an obligation. We have €9m that's going to be spent on capital developments this year.

"There's another €10m that goes into county offices and other developmental activity. There's €14m being spent on game development. The money is well spent."

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