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*FILE PIC: Sky Sports analysts JJ Delaney, Ollie Canning and Jamesie O’Connor with Brian Carney. 

Clare’s do or die All-Ireland SHC qualifier tie with Wexford will be aired on Sky Sports this Saturday while one of the county’s Oireachtas representatives has said the GAA must have free to air broadcasting of all games from next year.

Speaking ahead of the renegotiation of the GAA’s contract with Sky Sports for exclusive coverage of certain matches, Clare TD, Michael McNamara (IND) remarked, “GAA coverage cannot be auctioned off to the highest bidder in future”.

A five-year deal original was agreed with the subscription-based broadcaster in 2014 before being extended two years later until 2021.

Several supporters will be unable to watch the keenly anticipated meeting of Clare and Wexford this weekend, the Scariff native flagged. “Excessive Sky subscription costs, ongoing restrictions on attendances at matches, as well as restrictions on pubs showing matches means that many people will miss out Clare’s game with Wexford in Thurles this weekend at 1.30pm, a time that is ultimately dictated by the broadcaster. While I acknowledge that the GAA GO service also enables supporters to subscribe and watch the game online, many people in rural parts of the county are disadvantaged by not having access to good quality broadband connectivity and in some cases, any broadband services.”

“This issue is a source of great frustration to most people in Clare and throughout the country as they rightly believe that our national game should be free to air for everyone to enjoy. I believe the GAA’s decision to agree a contract with Sky in 2014 was wrong then and I believe it would be wrong now to renew this contract beyond 2021. Government must work with the GAA to ensure our national game is free to air when the current agreement expires later this year,” Deputy McNamara concluded.

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