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11 July 2002 Edition

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Stabbed in the back

At the July meeting of Dublin City Council, an emergency motion, calling on the FAI to review its deal with Sky TV, was passed. The motion, proposed by Councillor Dessie Ellis and his Sinn Féin colleagues, calls on the FAI "to review its deal with Sky TV in the interests of the loyal football fans who now feel they have been stabbed in the back".

Ellis added: "The government has claimed that the deal was a private business transaction and was therefore out of their hands. As Dr Roddy Flynn of DCU has pointed out, it would have been possible for the government to protect the Irish internationals BEFORE the sordid deal was done. Even now, it remains possible for the FF/PD coalition to retrospectively designate the forthcoming home internationals as major events, under Irish and EU law, as many other EU countries have done.

"The government's belated promise to now draw up a list of major events, not including the home internationals, is simply trying to close the stable door after the (gift) horse has bolted."

 

Government should review FAI role in National Stadium



Describing the FAI sale to Rupert Murdoch's Sky of TV rights to Irish international soccer matches as a "betrayal of the fans", Sinn Féin TD Martin Ferris has called on the government to review its participation in the National Stadium.

"Just last week the Dáil voted a special supplementary estimate to aid sporting bodies, including the FAI," said Ferris. "The government should now review the FAI's participation in the National Stadium project. Are we to have international soccer matches in our National Stadium made the exclusive TV property of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, further swelling his massive profits and depriving the majority of Irish people of TV coverage of their team?"

And at the July meeting of Dublin City Council, an emergency motion, calling on the FAI to review its deal with Sky TV, was passed. The motion, proposed by Councillor Dessie Ellis and his Sinn Féin colleagues, calls on the FAI "to review its deal with Sky TV in the interests of the loyal football fans who now feel they have been stabbed in the back".

 

FAI: Wanted for Treason


BY CIARAN MacANNRAOI


Treason is defind as the "violation of one's allegiance towards one's country" and it is a charge I have no hesitation in levelling against the FAI after their recent betrayal of the Irish soccer fan to Sky.

I have never had much respect for the FAI, because of their historical inability to organise themselves at a strategic level. I will admit they appear to be well organised on the ground at local games but when it comes to high level long strategic planning, something is amiss.

I admire the team and their performance over recent years, most notably in Japan/Korea and while the players for the most part are professionals of the highest calibre, the execurive of the FAI stumble aimlessly on.

Over the recent past, the FAI have been at the centre of "incidents" like the Eircom Park fiasco, credit card debacles and Milltown — they have now topped this off with the sale of TV rights to Sky for what amounts to peanuts.

I would blame the government for leaving the door open to them to do so. The rights should have being declared among events of significant national interest that must be broadcast live on terrestrial TV.

Some might say treason is too harsh but when one looks at the money involved there is no other logical conclusion; if the FAI had achieved a decent deal, it might be more palatable, although that is not to say acceptable.

When one puts the figures into context, the FAI will get €1.8m a years, which is €1.4m more than RTE offered, €1.8m would buy you 5 or 6 houses in Dublin and the GAA will take more at the gate of ONE match this weekend, namely the Leinster Football Final.

I would admit I got great entertainment value listening to Milo Corcoran on Sportscall last Sunday, talking about investing this money in the development of the game. Who is he trying to fool? What sort of development can be achieved for that sum of money? Not much is the answer, when you factor into the equation the FAI's historic failure to develop facilities and infrastructure. I wouldn't hold much hope for clubs who are expecting to see the benefit of this cash "bonanza".

No organisation is perfect; it would be foolish to believe that, but whatever flaws organisations like the GAA and IRFU may have, they are streets ahead of their counterparts in the FAI, and given the glamour of soccer nowadays, are lucky to have them as competitors.

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