GAA boss warns of changes in drinks sponsorship
Sponsorship of sport in Ireland by drinks companies will inevitably be curtailed, Croke Park stadium director Peter McKenna told the Sunday Business Post. He urged caution in doing this in a recession. Of the 14 sponsors involved in supporting the GAA, only one of them is currently a drinks company, Diageo, owner of the Guinness brand.
McKenna said Diageo had done “tremendous work” in its backing of the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship, bringing creative advertising to a new level. Irish International has created the Guinness hurling ads in recent years. While a ban on alcohol may appear draconian, Ireland has had “a troubled history with drink”.
No medal awarding ceremonies can take place in pubs and drinking from cups awarded to winning teams is not allowed. McKenna said alcohol is a part of many Irish celebrations but it needs to be done responsibly. Several sponsors are interested in becoming involved with the GAA should a key sponsorship arise.
Currently, ten of the 68 corporate boxes in Croke Park are not sponsored. The GAA was in a “very reasonable position” because as a brand and the values it espouses are still very popular. Irish Independent GAA writer Martin Breheny reports that televised Monday and Friday night senior championship games could be on the way.
The GAA is anxious to spread its big match schedule outside the traditional weekend slot. Leinster Council chief executive Michael Delaney favours experimenting with Friday and Monday night games. He suggests that live TV coverage features a game on Saturday while being restricted to one game on Sunday.