Thursday 13 December 2018

John Delaney kicks for touch on free to air issue

Sports Council chief John Treacy wants status quo maintained

John Delaney, Chief Executive of the FAI
John Delaney, Chief Executive of the FAI

FAI CEO John Delaney refused to be drawn into a debate about proposed changes to the current free-to-air broadcast list for major sports events despite a clear difference of opinion with the Irish Sports Council.

The FAI believe that they are not being treated equally by the current free to air list which includes qualification games for the European Championship and World Cup finals but not Six Nations rugby.

Given that the FAI have a centralised contract with UEFA which runs up until 2022, Delaney is taking a very long-term view of future options, not an unreasonable stance given the very rapid shifts in technology and delivery platforms for broadcast events.

But speaking after Sports Minister Michael Ring announced a round of funding for Youth Field Sports alongside IRFU main man Philip Browne and GAA Chief Paraic Duffy, Delaney kicked for touch.

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"Well it doesn't really affect us, we have a centralised television contact with UEFA," he said.

"There was the principle. We won't get into this too much. We'll leave it at this. The principle is the point more than anything else.

"But it's not the biggest principle for us to be involved in, to be frank with you. We have a centralised television contract with UEFA which will be contracted until 2022. It's not the biggest deal for us."

"I support the right of the public to see all our games. That's what I would like to see. I think the principle of being treated differently is a point, but not the biggest point for us.

Also present was Irish Sports Council chief executive John Treacy who followed Delaney's lead and played a straight bar when the subject was raised.

Recent reports pointed to a submission by the ISC to a Government consultative process which offered the view that the current status quo is their preferred option when it comes to ring-fenced sporting occasions which must be broadcast free to air.

"The rationale at this moment in time is that we basically said 'keep the status quo' because in terms of decreasing funding it was not a time to be looking at this. That was the view of the Council," said Treacy.

Delaney also revealed that Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane will be taking senior Ireland international training sessions in Abbotstown by the Autumn.

Work on the six new pitches, which are part of the growing Campus Ireland project, and the ancillary buildings and facilities will be completed soon and while he would not confirm a permanent move from the current Gannon Park training base, he did reveal that senior squad will definitely use the FAI's show-piece in the Autumn.

"Oh it will yeah. I think in the Autumn it will, yeah, definitely," he said. "Why would we build an elite academy and not use it for our senior international players?

"It will be for elite players and the DDSL have a deal with us as well," he said referencing the large trench of funding provided by the huge Dublin schoolboy league.

"The campus is going to be open in May or June. There are six pitches there. There will floodlights around three of them. There'll be a goalkeeping area, fencing, dressing rooms, coaching centre, education centre," he said.

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