Kerry GAA club games will be pay-per-view as county faces €400k loss

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Kerry GAA club games will be pay-per-view as county faces €400k loss
On the subject of whether club or inter-county fare should return first, Kerry County Board chairman Tim Murphy believes medical opinion will determine the end decision. Picture Dan Linehan

The live streaming of Kerry club fixtures — whenever the GAA sanctions a return to games activity — will be pay-per-view, county board chairman Tim Murphy has revealed.

Irrespective of restrictions on crowd capacity or fixtures having to go behind closed doors, Kerry County Board will charge a small subscription fee to watch county championship games online.

Kerry County Board is facing a loss of up to €400k for 2020 if the remainder of the season proves a write-off. And even in the event of a return to play in the months ahead, Murphy says their end-of-year accounts will still be in the red.

Croke Park held a virtual convention with all counties a number of weeks ago to encourage them to make provisions for streaming games on their official websites later in the year. The Kerry executive has been exploring the concept of live streaming since late last year and will be ready to showcase their games to an online audience whenever the green light is given for a return to action.

“If you cast your mind back to our county senior football final last year, we made a decision at the time not to have that game televised. We did it on the basis that we thought the attendance would be affected. The other side to that decision, though, is a cohort of people lost out on being able to watch the game, particularly the older generation who weren’t in a position to travel and people abroad.

We began investigations into how we might progress live streaming of our games. We have it reasonably well developed. If and when games resume, we’d be in a position to offer a streaming service for a small fee, just to get our games out there to the broader community. Irrespective of Covid-19, we were going to progress with this.

“You wouldn’t stream every single game. You would pick the ones that would generate the most interest within the county championship — quarter-finals, semis, and final — as a start off, just to see how we get on with those. Any revenue generated would be reinvested in the development of the games in Kerry,” Murphy insisted.

Gate receipts (€513k) and fundraising (€553k) contributed over €1m to Kerry GAA coffers in 2019. Both figures will be significantly reduced this year, meaning certain development projects at their centre of excellence in Currans have had to be shelved.

“We are looking at an operational loss of between €350k and €400k for the year — that would be our worst-case scenario projection if nothing was to go ahead during the remainder of the year.

“We have Currans, Austin Stack Park, and Fitzgerald Stadium, of which we have bank loans and bank repayments to make. We had a lot of fundraising planned this year, both nationally and internationally, which isn’t going to happen now. We are working with the banks in relation to that and in fairness, they have been accommodating of the situation we find ourselves in.” 

He added: “At Currans, we had plans for the development of an auditorium on the first floor, machinery shed, and, maybe, an extra pitch. We had intended to go at that towards the end of the summer but that is going to be deferred for at least 12 months.

“Thankfully, we have a fairly robust finance committee, chaired by an independent person, Michael Kearney, and we’d have had good financial discipline over the last number of years. We should be able to manage the financial blow of this year.

“Notwithstanding the savings of recent years, in a best-case situation, we’d still be in a loss-making scenario for 2020. It’ll take a number of years to get back into the [financial] position we were in pre-Covid.” 

There has been speculation this week the reopening of club grounds will be brought forward from Phase 4 July 20 to Phase 3 June 29. Murphy — fully cognisant of how difficult it must be for those in rural areas to not be allowed enter their local field — is hopeful pitches won’t stay shut into next month.

“For many, the pitch might be the only green space in a parish or community. But I think people accept health comes first and that we are all part of the wider association.

“The number of daily positive cases is declining and Covid-19 seems to be suppressed to a fairly large degree, and the GAA will respond accordingly to that. Walkways at club grounds will open up next week and maybe the pitches, please God, will open up faster than had been originally planned.” 

On the subject of whether club or inter-county fare should return first, the Kerry chairman believes medical opinion will determine the end decision.

“The GAA is still striving towards getting club action up and running first. Is that achievable? I hope it is.

“The risk is the same, whether it is club or county. The question, in my mind, is: How is that risk controlled, and is it easier to control at club or county level?” 

He was effusive in his praise of how clubs responded to the virus outbreak and the lead role they played in their community to ensure no person wanted for anything. Kerry County Council chief executive Moira Murrell has said the local council, but for the GAA, would not have been able to meet some of the problems facing the county back in March and April.

“This is probably 10, 11 weeks into the whole crisis and although it is not being talked about as much as it was at the beginning, people are still working hard on the ground. Every part of the county, people are still delivering food and pharmacy supplies,” Murphy concluded.

Source: Sports