KELLY’S EYE – Eir Sport’s new TV deal – What does it mean for the Club GAA player?

EIR sport will broadcast 30 live club championship games from this May and we look at what this will mean to the club players involved. 

With local streaming services, RTE and TG4, multiple live matches will become the norm and the laptop provides more GAA coverage than ever, especially if one has the EIR sport package.

Now, we don’t want to be negative but the wisdom of the GAA to enter such an agreement when the Club Players Association (CPA) are outraged about sorting the calendar is questionable.

Firstly, TG4 have publicly stated that their two games (one live, one deferred) won’t be affected.  But EIR Sport, rightfully, will want a say in the games they cover.  I’m sure SKY Sports get input into the matches they broadcast.

Secondly, EIR Sport is a subscription service which hardly goes down well with those vehemently opposed to SKY.  That’s not the fault of the broadcaster and EIR Sport have been lauded for their excellent league coverage.

Thirdly, when will games be broadcast?  They hardly will go against TG4 on Sunday afternoons.  The current Saturday night arrangement looks likely but Friday nights can’t be ruled out.

However, we don’t know if the extra money will be distributed to local level and I’m sure the club player won’t mind the exposure. But can we be sure the club attendances won’t be hindered when these earlier games are shown?

Sunday evenings are sacrilege to county activity hence the opposition to 6.15pm live games in the 1990s.  The locals will follow their club but the travellers hitting the road have another reason to stay at home.

But what could be very interesting, especially if games are broadcast in May, is what happens when county managers seek a deferral, when a club wants a game moved to accommodate a local wedding or if an uproar occurs like in Mayo last year after their semi-final win over a round of fixtures?  And often, fixtures are only announced the preceding week.

The Dublin and Donegal club championships have been mentioned for coverage but three years ago, the Donegal competition was shut down until the county’s summer was over.

EIR Sport are willing to provide coverage and that should be welcomed.  But can the GAA guarantee a smooth arrangement when club players are getting noisier regarding their schedule.

Garth Brooks had five concerts cancelled due to a lack of dialogue between the GAA and local residents.  Unless the GAA engages with the CPA, another uncomfortable development could arise.

The Club Player just wants to play, regardless who is showing the game.  It’s the internal arrangement that may be strained by another television deal. Which means that no matter what why this works out for the club player they have probably lost more say on when matches will be played.

The question is will the CPA ballot their members for a strike in the next 12 months??


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