Cork GAA confirm Sports Direct as new sponsor but ‘regret’ deal being leaked to public

CORK GAA HAS confirmed Sports Direct as their new sponsor but has also expressed “regret” that news of the deal was leaked to the public before the official launch.

The sportswear company owned by Mike Ashley was reported to be coming on board with the Rebel county earlier this month, and the deal was officially announced at the first county committee meeting of 2021 yesterday.

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Chairman Marc Sheehan made the official announcement at the meeting.

“The Chairman confirmed that a Sponsorship agreement had been concluded with Sports Direct in early December 2020 and the board looks forward to the formal launch of this arrangement in the near future,” a statement on the Cork GAA website reads.

“It is a matter of regret to the Board that information had come into the public domain prior to the intended launch of this arrangement. The Chairman acknowledged the generous sponsorship and support of Chill Insurance over the past number of years.

“The board looks forward to providing the detail of our Sponsorship arrangements at our next meeting.”

The Sunday Times recently reported that the Sports Direct deal is worth €2 million over five years, with performance bonuses of up to €2 million. This arrangement is also set to include a boot deal as well as €200,000 for winning an All-Ireland.

News of the deal broke just a few days after the company was in the Irish sports headlines following the FAI’s AGM, where it was revealed that the Association will be paying Sports Direct €100,000 per month in loan repayments until October 2025.

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This is Sports Direct’s first involvement with an inter-county GAA team, though they have been a sponsor of Rebel club outfit Glen Rovers of late.

Ashley is also the owner of Premier League club Newcastle United and department stores House of Fraser.

At the meeting, it was also revealed that the completion of the 2020 competitions must be pushed back to June at the earliest this year. Cork GAA previously announced that they intended to play their senior and intermediate football final fixtures in March, but that is no longer possible.

“In relation to the completion of the 2020 competitions, it is clear that the dates previously advised for early March cannot be achieved and it is hoped these games in late June or early July, prior to the 2021 competitions commence but a bigger window is needed to complete the Junior competitions.”

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