Former GAA president Nickey Brennan has said a mooted deal between the GAA and broadcaster Sky will be of benefit to clubs around the country.
Brennan, while stressing that he was unaware if a deal between the GAA and the pay-per-view broadcaster had been done, said he was sure that a majority of games would still be available on free-to-air television.
“It is something that has probably been in the pipeline for some time,” Brennan told RTÉ Radio.
“I know that Sky has expressed interest the last couple of times that the television rights came up for negotiations. I was involved myself a few years ago when Setanta became involved and that was the first time the GAA dipped its toe in the water regarding a pay-per-view service.
“I think that if this goes ahead Sky will bring some innovation. They have innovative technology, the way they present matches will be exciting, and I think it’s important that the majority of games will still be available free-to-air for spectators and supporters.”
Asked if there were some games, such as the Munster hurling final, that should always be available on terrestrial television, Brennan was adamant that that would not be an issue.
“I don’t see the majority of the games, and particularly those at the latter end of the Championship, ever moving off terrestrial television to be honest," he said.
“I don’t think the GAA is looking at that at all as far as I know. But I do think there is an opportunity for the GAA to expand its games into new audiences and see more innovation take over. People now have a lot more smart devices and games can be seen on different media.
“I think the GAA are doing what a lot of other sporting organisations are doing, while at the same time retaining the majority of games for terrestrial TV and the majority of people in the country.”
"I do think there is an opportunity for the GAA to expand its games into new audiences"
The two-time All-Ireland winner with Kilkenny, who held the GAA presidency from 2006 to 2009, accepted that there would be people who would not be happy with a deal between the GAA and Sky, but insisted that the money generated would be of great benefit to the game at grassroots level.
“I accept that some people may be unhappy about that, but at the same time whatever revenue is generated off the deal will be, as has been the common practise, distributed back down (to the clubs).
“I am very much involved in the club scene at the moment and I think any help we can get from central level in Croke Park to help us run the organisation at grassroots level would be greatly appreciated.
“I, like every other club officer in the country, am looking forward to getting our hands on some of [Sky’s] money, if the deal is to happen.”
Brennan also stressed that, while the GAA are currently in rude financial health, there is always a need to look at the long term future and funding of the organisation.
“The coming year may well be a good one, but the association is everlasting and we want to make sure that the clubs around the country get as much support as possible. If help can come via financial aid from Croke Park, in whatever form it may be, there is no club in the country will say no to that,” he added.