Diageos Walsh is not impressed by the idea of a ban on sports sponsorship in Ireland

Diageo's Walsh is not impressed by the idea of a ban on sports sponsorship in Ireland

Diageo CEO Paul Walsh has branded a proposal to ban drinks firms sponsoring sporting events in Ireland as "ridiculous", according to local reports

Earlier this year, an Irish government steering group urged ministers to phase out such sponsorship by 2016. And in May, Ireland's health minister Róisín Shortall pledged to go ahead with the ban. 

But, the Irish Independent reported Walsh as saying yesterday (25 October): "I think it's ridiculous. Guinness has got a rich heritage of involvement in sports, whether it's rugby or other sports.

"For the home of Guinness, this wonderful global, iconic brand, which is providing so much revenue to this country by their exports, for anybody to consider in some way restricting its ability to leverage its brand, strikes me as very, very short-term populist thinking,". 

Among Diageo current sponsorship deals is Guinness' backing of the Gaelic Athletic Association's All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship. 

Walsh claimed that the effects of a ban will only be realised some years after it is implemented. "The first year you won't notice it, the second year you won't notice it. In ten years you'll be saying, 'What's happening?'," he said. 

The Diageo chief was in Ireland as the company offically launched construction of a EUR153m (US$197m) revamp of its St James's Gate site in Dublin, first announced in January.

The move represents a scaled-down version of previous plans, which had included investing around EUR650m in a new brewery. However this plan was put on hold in 2009, as the company flagged a "changed economic environment".