4 February 2011 – Jonny Stapleton
Severe financial cutbacks enforced on RTE Sport are the sole reason the National Broadcaster is unable to show Willie Casey and Guillermo Rigondeaux’s WBA Interim world title fight, according to Ryle Nugent.
Speaking to irish-boxing.com, Head of RTE Sport Nugent said he believes in the fight’s editorial merit and sympathised with the boxing public, but stressed RTE simply cannot afford to broadcast the bout. Nugent revealed RTE is already on course to make a deficit this year and with no discretionary budget he has been forced to turn off the TV hopes of various sporting events.
RTE will struggle to show anything that has not been allocated to their budget this year and its seems the biggest fight in Ireland since Bernard Dunne versus Ricardo Cordoba falls into the category.
The reasons we are not showing the fight is purely and utterly financially based. For events like this which are a late call we usually have a discretionary budget but due to the cutbacks we havent got that this year, Nugent explained.
We have been hit by a 15 million cut from the budget so we cannot consider any other sports not already contracted for the year. With the likes of the say, the GAA, Champions League and Six Nations we have signed two or three year contracts. Professional Boxing has not got that much of a lead in time so it generally was paid for by the discretionary budget, which we dont have this year. With the collapse in commercial revenue of late the organisation had to get itself in order and was forced to make cut back in staff and spending. We simply do not have the money to show anything we are not in a contract to show. That is the ONLY reason we can not show Willie Casey versus Rigondeaux.
Nugent did reveal there is a slim possibility that the fight could get the national coverage it deserves. The RTE Sport supermo has told Dolphil and Nowhere2Hyde Promotions that he would air the bout if they were to pay for the broadcasting.
I have stated clearly to the promoters that if they come up with the finance to cover the cost of production I dont see any reason we wouldnt air the fight. I know that is not ideal but it is the reality of the situation. The Editorial merit and public interest in this fight are not in question. There is just no money in the kitty. RTE have been heavily involved in Boxing since 2003 and outside or Sky Sports no one else has shown more boxing in Ireland or in the UK than RTE.
Nugent also labelled claims that RTE have other motivations other than financial for not broadcasting the world title clash featuring the newly crowned Irish Boxer of the Year as very unfair. Some have been suggesting that the biggest television network in Ireland has decided against broadcasting the mouthwatering bout is because the inspirational Casey is from Limerick and is a traveller. Claims that Nugent strongly refuted.
Nugent also revealed RTE are showing no bias to any other promoters and stressed at the current time no professional boxing will be broadcast on RTE.
I have heard some of the rumours as to why we are not showing the fight and to be honest the are simply very unfair. Willie was top of the bill on RTE in November when he challenged for the European title. Any suggestions we dont want to show Willie Casey are very unfair, he added before revealing news that could severely damage pro boxing in Ireland in 2011.
At the moment we do not have the budget to show any professional boxing this year. We are contracted to show the amateur finals and we will air them, as well as the amateur world championships. Come October, November if there is a financial shift we might review the situation, but for now we will not show pro boxing in Ireland this year.
Despite RTE’s decision Dolphil promotions is still confident of ensuring the TV coverage for the City West hosted world title bout.