Dublin lead the way to end Sky Sports involvement in GAA

The Sky Sports GAA TV panel
The Sky Sports GAA TV panel

Dublin will lead the attempt at Congress to introduce a rule preventing any future deals with subscription channels such as Sky Sports.

The GAA stands to lose as much as €15million over the next three years if it decides this weekend to lock TV rights for Championship coverage into a free-to-air deal only.

Effectively, that would restrict the market to RTE and TV3 only and inevitably lead to a massive drop in revenue. Media income, the bulk of which was derived from selling Championship rights, yielded €11.3million last year and industry sources say that it would drop dramatically if the GAA shrinks the market through a self-imposed rule.

It's estimated that the decrease could be up to €5million per year for the period of the next TV right agreement, which runs from 2017-19.

The GAA dealt with Sky for the first time three years ago, selling 14 exclusive Championship games for 2014, '15 and '16, with RTE holding the main package, comprising 31 games. Both channels showed the All-Ireland semi-finals and finals.

Dublin triumphed over Kerry in the 2015 All-Ireland football final

Prior to that, the possibility of doing a deal with Sky strengthened the GAA's hand in negotiating with RTE and TV3, but if the Dublin proposal is passed, the landscape will change dramatically.

Dublin are calling for free-to-air certainty to be written into rule, whereas Kerry want no further deals with subscription channels.

There's a subtle - but very important - difference between them as Kerry did not seek to have it written into rule, which would allow Central Council to decide on TV policy as it saw fit at any particular time.

However, if the Dublin motion is accepted, it will be immediately added to the rulebook and can only be changed by a two-thirds majority of Congress.

GAA director-general Paraic Duffy has already expressed opposition to introducing a free-to-air rule, stating that it would "seriously reduce our negotiating power."