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'Finance was not our priority' - Paraic Duffy on GAA's TV deal with Sky

The association’s director general appeared on Prime Time last night to defend their latest agreement.

Paraic Duffy speaking on Prime Time last night.
Paraic Duffy speaking on Prime Time last night.
Image: RTE Player

GAA DIRECTOR GENERAL Paraic Duffy insists that money was not the main decision behind selling broadcasting rights to Sky Sports.

Yesterday, it was announced that the subscription sports network will broadcast 14 exclusive GAA championship games this summer — eight Saturday evening matches in the All-Ireland qualifiers, two All-Ireland football championship quarter-finals, and two Saturday evening and two Sunday provincial championship games.

And while many players and fans have welcomed the news as a progressive step, others have questioned the motives behind it.

“Finance was not our priority here,” Duffy said speaking on RTÉ’s Prime Time last night. “If we had decided to allocate these rights on the basis of finance, I can assure you the allocation of rights would look very different than it does today.

We had two goals. We wanted to make our games accessible to the Irish abroad in a way that hasn’t happened before and we’ve succeeded in that through opening it up to ten and a half million houses in Britain with Sky.

“We’ve also succeeded in making all of our championship games broadcast free to air in Australia. We’ve made a deal with RTÉ Digital to give access to our games worldwide.

“Our membership is not just membership in Ireland. We have people all over the world with clubs in Dubai to North America to Asia to Britain. What we have done today is made our games available to them in a way that has never happened before.

“Let’s not underestimate the promotional value of this. We’re putting our games before millions.

“It’s no different to people here watching American football and enjoying it. The game of hurling, when people in Britain and around the world see it, the increase in interest will be massive.”

Duffy was quoted in the past as saying that the GAA wouldn’t get away with selling the rights to Sky in Michael Moynihan’s book ‘GAAconomics: The Secret Life of Money in the GAA’, but added that while he accepts some may disagree with the move, the GAA’s deal is not comparable to the Heineken Cup’s switch to the channel.

The difference is we will have 31 games that are free to air,” he said. “None of the Heineken Cup games are free to air. The Heineken Cup argument is not relevant.

“This is not just about one particular aspect of the deal today. It’s about the deal in its entirety. This is a very good day for the association.

“Last year there were 40 games free to air in the championship, this year there are 31.

“I’d also point out that over 100 games will be shown across RTÉ, TG4 and free to air networks in the coming year.”

Watch the full interview on last night’s Prime Time via the RTÉ player here

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Ben Blake

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