THE fact that only approximately 100 spectators will be allowed to attend GAA matches until at least August 10 has been described as ‘a huge blow’ by a senior Mayo GAA official.
The Government announced yesterday (Wednesday) that phase four of the roadmap to relax Covid-19 restrictions had been delayed from Monday next, July 20 for at least three more weeks.
One of the consequences of this decision is that a maximum of 200 people (which includes participants, match officials etc) will be allowed to attend outdoor events until at least August 10.
This means that GAA fixtures right across the country this weekend, including the start of the Michael Walsh Secondary Leagues in Mayo, will be affected.
However, the impact on the upcoming rounds of the County Senior, Intermediate and Junior club football championships will be even more pronounced, as they are now effectively going to be played ‘behind closed doors’.
The opening two rounds are scheduled for the weekend of August 1/2 and August 8/9.
The county senior hurling championship throws-in on Friday, July 24.
Mayo GAA took in €302,125 from club championship gate receipts in 2019.
Speaking to The Mayo News this evening (Thursday), Mayo GAA PRO Paul Cunnane explained that the Government’s decision would have significant knock-on consequences for both the County Board and clubs.
“It’s a huge blow to Mayo GAA that the capacities are going to stay at 200 for the coming weeks, but obviously we have to respect the public health guidelines that are there,” he said.
“Public health and safety are paramount.
“As an executive we would have spent the last week to ten days putting together a ticketing strategy based on an attendance of 500 at the club games, and that was ready to send out to the clubs in the next day or two.
“But now we’ve had to change tack and go back to square one, and look at games involving crowds of just 200 people.
“The big issue there, of course, is that the 200 also takes into account everyone inside the pitch — starting teams, substitutes, team officials, medics, match officials, stewards, club officers you’re at 80 or 90 people straight away.
“So, realisitically that only leaves you with about 100 people attending games this coming weekend and at least the first two rounds of the club championships.
“That isn’t ideal for us, the clubs involved or their members, who have been working away for the last number of months to help their communities and their clubs.
“Now the games have come around and it looks like very few of those same people will be able to attend the games. It’s certainly a blow to us and a blow to our clubs.”
This latest development will mean that plans to stream upcoming club championship matches on Mayo GAA TV are likely to be accelerated, while there has also been speculation that some Mayo club championship games may be shown on either TG4 and/or RTE.
“We will now reassess the latest guidelines that have been released and update clubs next week on a ticketing strategy on how we’re going to allocate the tickets for the upcoming club championship matches,” added Paul Cunnane.