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‘Hastily conceived and ill thought out’

A sports retailer has slammed a deal that has opened the door for a website owned by Sports Direct to undercut boot prices offered by independents in the Republic of Ireland.

Gerard Wyley of Ger Wyley Footwear and Sportswear, which is based in Dungarvan, has called the endorsement of by the Gaelic Athletic Association and Gaelic Players Association ‘hastily conceived and ill thought out’.

In an open letter to GPA chief executive Dessie Farrell, Wyley stated that he has been a supporter of Waterford County Board and local clubs for 24 years: ‘To date, in association with Skins we have sponsored €75,000 worth of Skins product for the Waterford senior hurling panel.

‘With the GPA/GAA encouraging its members – myself included – and supporters to purchase not only boots but also runners on, we will no longer be in a position to continue this level of sponsorship.’

Wyley alleges the deal has given Sports Direct access to the Irish market without it having to shoulder the costs incurred by retailers in the Republic such as rates, insurance and advertising.

He also accused the GPA/GAA of taking money out of the local economy, leaving supporters with less money to attend games, adding: ‘It is a travesty of justice for a national organisation to be promoting the purchase of merchandise from a UK registered company.’

In a statement to the Irish Independent newspaper, GAA spokesman Alan Milton said: “ is a joint initiative between the GAA and the GPA to help fund the GAA and GPA player welfare and development programmes.

“It was launched specifically as a medium for players who purchase their boots online, offering them a wider range of boots at competitive prices.

“Football boots represent a small proportion of the overall expenditure on GAA playing gear and equipment and are excluded from the provision under the GAA rules whereby all jerseys, shorts, stockings, tracksuits and kit bags worn in official matches, and all replica playing gear, must be of Irish manufacture.

“It is a matter for each player and unit to decide whether they wish to purchase their boots, playing gear or equipment online or from retailers.”

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