CEO Statement Regarding UEFA Fixtures
- Thu, Sep 11, 2008 @ 17:31
"As everyone knows, competing in the Eircom League is not a profit-making exercise. The club's remarkable progress so far in this year's UEFA Cup has given us an opportunity to help reduce our losses for this year, while also promoting the club to a wider audience.
"Considering the current financial climate of Irish domestic football and the low attendance levels, securing revenue from sources other than ticket sales is vital. This is particularly important given the additional costs of moving our first round home game to the RDS.
"Though some of our recent decisions have not been popular with some, we would hope our supporters realise they were made with the best interests of the club.
"Late last week we were approached by German broadcaster DSF with an offer for exclusive international TV rights to our upcoming game in Dublin with Hertha Berlin.
"The offer was the only one we received and it was on the condition that our fixture would be the 'stand alone' fixture on Tuesday, 30th September, at 5pm. Champions League fixtures that evening prevent us from kicking-off any later than this.
"With so many other German clubs in this round of the competition, and with St Pat's being the lowest seed left in the UEFA Cup, there was no interest from any other parties.
"With the UEFA deadline looming to make our decision on the date and kick-off times for the home leg, we had a simple choice. We could either decide to play the game on Tuesday at 5pm in the hope of pulling off a deal, or play the game at any other time knowing there were no interested TV stations anywhere willing to pay for live coverage.
"The fixture that would have potentially clashed with ours was Stuttgart's game with Cherno More. Though the deadline passed on Friday last week to agree on dates, we knew Stuttgart were looking to move their tie to the Tuesday slot also.
"Fearful of a possible u-turn by UEFA on this, we knew our potential earnings were in serious doubt. If Stuttgart were successful in their bid, realising there was no money to be made, we would then have sought a return to the original Thursday slot with a 7.45 kick-off.
"UEFA would have been unlikely to have granted our wish, but given the reaction to the change of date of our home leg, we decided against publicly commenting on any of this.
"Stuttgart failed in their bid to move their fixture, so all relevant parties were able to conclude the TV deal. Contrary to popular opinion, our progress in the competition so far has not brought the endless riches to the club that I've read about in some newspapers.
"There are many reasons for this. Firstly, the squad stayed for 4 nights in both Latvia and Sweden in previous rounds, in order to prepare for and recover from each game in the best way possible.
"Also, we have had no revenue from any TV stations due to the commercially unattractive nature of our fixtures so far.
"Added to this, we sold all tickets to our two home games for €10 to encourage a larger than usual amount of St Pat's supporters to come to the game. When other costs and performance bonuses were factored in, the importance of securing this TV deal became all the greater.
"I am acutely aware that this kick-off time is not ideal for some of our most loyal supporters, many of whom have already taken time off work to support us abroad. However, the decision was made in the hope of furthering the club's overall development.
"While a 5pm time will no doubt adversely affect the size of the crowd at the RDS, I assume the factor that will influence the attendance most will be our result next week in Berlin's Olympic Stadium, a night which will hopefully be one of the most memorable in the club's long history."