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Friday 2 June 2023 Dublin: 12°C
# Páirc Uí Chaoimh
Pressure mounts on GAA after Liam Miller tribute match sells out within minutes
The move may fall foul of a 2016 ruling by the European Commission over a €30m grant from the Government for the stadium’s redevelopment.

LAST UPDATE | Jul 20th 2018, 5:30 PM

PRESSURE IS MOUNTING on the GAA to host a tribute match for the late soccer player Liam Miller at Páirc Uí Chaoimh after tickets for the game were snapped up within minutes.

And in a statement this evening, the GAA said that it would not be moved on the issue and that the Cork County Board has “no discretion” on the use of the stadium.

Thousands of fans were left disappointed after organisers confirmed that the match, due to be played at the 7,000-capacity Turner’s Cross on September 25, has sold out.

The match has been organised to raise funds for Miller, a former Republic of Ireland international who passed away from pancreatic cancer at the age of 36 earlier this year.

Controversy arose yesterday when it emerged that Páirc Uí Chaoimh, which has a capacity of 45,000, could not be used to host the game as it breached the GAA’s ban on foreign sports being played at Gaelic grounds.

A general view of Pairc Ui Chaoimh Tommy Dickson / INPHO A general view of Pairc Ui Chaoimh Tommy Dickson / INPHO / INPHO

Cork County councillor Bernard Moynihan told that he will bring a motion before the local authority calling for support for the bigger stadium to be used.

He said: “On Monday morning I’m going to be calling for the suspension of standing orders.

“I’ll be contacting our county mayor, Patrick Gerard Murphy over the weekend because I want the county council to get involved.”

The Government is also expected to seek an explanation from the Cork County Board over the inability of Páirc Uí Chaoimh to host the match.

The Irish Examiner reports that the move may fall foul of a July 2016 ruling by the European Commission.

The ruling was issued following a complaint from an EU citizen that the Government’s provision of the €30m redevelopment grant gave undue advantage to the GAA and would distort competition in the local sports market.

The Commission cleared the Government of providing illegal State aid, but attached a number of conditions to the use of the stadium, including a direction that it should be used to host other sports.

It also directed the Government to monitor the stadium’s use for 15 years, and said community groups should be given access to its facilities for free.

It said: “These include, for instance, local resident or voluntary associations (for organising various meetings or activities in the interest to the community.)”

A spokesman for the Department of Transport, Tourism, and Sport told  that it was set to contact the Cork County Board over the terms of the grant.

In a statement, the spokesman said: “The Department was not contacted by the event organisers.

“The redevelopment of Páirc Uí Chaoimh received an allocation of €30 million. In accordance with the conditions of the grant, the Department is monitoring the use of the facility and is liaising with Cork County Board on this issue.”

In a statement this evening, the GAA said that it would not make a decision on hosting games other than those under its control in its grounds outside its annual Congress.

It said: “The GAA is prohibited in rule from hosting games other than those under the control of the Association in its stadia and grounds. The Cork County Committee and Central Council have no discretion in this matter.

“Only a change at Annual Congress can alter this situation. Congress takes place in February each year.

“The GAA has sought legal advice around funding received towards the redevelopment of Páirc Uí Chaoimh and believes it is compliant with the terms and conditions laid down in September 2016.

“The Association re-affirms its offer to provide hospitality facilities at the venue free gratis to assist fundraising efforts around the Liam Miller Tribute Match and wish the event organisers every success in their endeavours.”

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