Some Irish soccer fans dream of scoring a goal for their country. Others, like Dublin expat David Feeney, dream of scoring the TV rights for the game, and sharing the exploits of the Boys in Green with fellow fans in Australia.
Frustrated that Ireland’s World Cup Qualifier against Sweden was not being broadcast on any TV stations Down Under, Feeney decided to buy the rights himself. The Irish Independent reports that the Dublin native contacted Kentaro, the German company that owned the media rights to the game.
“They said my bid was too low, but that it was close,” Feeney told the Reuters news agency. “Then I raised [it] and they said OK.”
Feeney, an IT programmer, made a deal with a horse-racing channel in Australia to broadcast the game via closed-cicuit TV throughout the country. He has also secured the rights to the England vs. Ukraine qualifier. He told the Irish Examiner that he bought the rights to the England game because the wider appeal will help him cover his costs.
While Feeney won’t reveal exact numbers for what he paid – “[It’s] in the tens of thousands of dollars” is all he’ll say -- he did admit that he mortgaged his house to get the money for the broadcast rights. To drum up publicity, he has invited former Boyzone singer and current Aussie “X Factor” judge Ronan Keating and former Kerry footballer-turned-Sydney Swans star Tommy Walsh to watch the broadcast with him.
The toughest part of the process, Feeney says, has been in convincing his wife Lesley to approve the gamble.
“We have an agreement,” he said with a laugh. “If [the business] makes any money, she gets to keep it!”