By Liam Gaskin
A ban on sports sponsorship is another poor proposal by a Government desperately seeking any kind of public approval without any understanding or concern for the impact on sport in general.
Lets get real, the powers that be would have us believe that loosing 30 million in support from the drinks industry for sport will be picked up by other companies and commercial interests, what country are they living in. Do they not have any comprehension of the effect their austerity measures have had on every single individual in the domestic economy, and I emphasise domestic. I am tired of hearing of the success of our export industries which employ a small minority of PAYE workers whose disposable incomes couldn’t possibly prop up the real economy.
Increased taxation, less government spending, lack of bank credit, public and private sector pay cuts, water tax, household tax and septic tank registrations to name but the obvious ones have left the hard pressed tax payer broke with NO disposable income. This has created an economy of thrift, which in turn has driven numerous big name companies to abandon their operations in Ireland faster than rats deserting a sinking ship and has led to decisions on investing in Advertising, Marketing and sponsorship being made in London, Birmingham Paris Berlin and elsewhere. These companies who in the past would have considered sports sponsorship as an attractive proposal no longer have any interest in investing in advertising, the most basic and simple form of commercial communication, never mind sponsorship. Ask RTE, TV3 the print media how healthy their revenues are and why they will shortly start opening or beefing up their operations in London and elsewhere and perhaps our Government might begin to see that the people pulling their strings in Europe are similar to those they expect take up the slack when they ban Drinks companies from Sport.
I wonder if any of our Ministers have ever tried explaining Gaelic Games to their European counterparts? well I have and the glazed expression that spread across their faces would have been laughable if it was not so serious as I was representing a sponsorship opportunity at the time.
I could quote figures and statistics about the importance of the drinks companies investments in sport or refer to research that says there is no correlation to drinks companies investments in sport and an increase in consumption but I would prefer to pose some questions that we might ponder.
Last year the government spent 30 million on road safety campaigns and initiatives and over 250 people died. In the same year I understand over 500 people died of suicide and they spent less than 3 million. Every weekend hundreds of thousands of us enjoy a drink in a bar or a restaurant and go home in a civilised fashion while hundreds end up in A@E or even more hundreds end up drunk out of their brains but should hundreds of thousands be made to feel bad for the actions of thousands? This and successive Governments have been influenced by small but noisy minorities who threaten and cajole yet the representatives of products, such as alcohol are shouted down and bullied if they attempt to defend their products which are legal, decent and honest but when it affects the funding of Sport I for one say ENOUGH.
Ask the sponsorship directors of the FAI, GAA, IRFU and others whether they can replace the funding that this Government would cut off for them so easily and please listen when they say no. These are very professional people and they know the reality of funding sports and whereas it is hard now it will soon become impossible.
To sum up, as a buyer and negotiator of all forms of sponsorship if I realise that key investors in sports sponsorships are no longer in the game I am certainly going to expect to pay less and this in turn will negatively impact on the fringe activities supported by the current sports bodies such as children’s training programs , sport in deprived areas, junior coaches etc. and the depression that our Government has driven us into will become deeper and darker.