Sunday 23 July 2017

CPA hits out at RTE coverage as request for Congress air-time gets turned down

CPA secretary Declan Brennan (left) and chairman Micheal Briody. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
CPA secretary Declan Brennan (left) and chairman Micheal Briody. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

A request from the Club Players Association to speak on a motion to Congress calling for them to be officially recognised has been turned down, a statement from the organisation has revealed.

Members of the CPA executive, chairman Michael Briody and treasurer Anthony Moyles, had intended to speak on motions being put forward on their behalf by clubs in Wexford and Tipperary.

Under rule, non-delegates or 'visitors' can be invited at the discretion of the GAA president of the day to speak and a request was made. But the CPA have outlined that such a request has been turned down because, they say, it was deemed "inappropriate" in correspondence with Aogán ó Fearghail.

In the statement, Briody said his body were disappointed but not surprised by the turn of events, claiming the president was ignoring the will of over 20,000 members.

"We wrote to the president as required under rule 3.35 to formally request the right to speak at Congress on behalf of over 20,000 members," he said.

"He has replied, denying us the opportunity to speak, stating it would be inappropriate. The uachtarán, in doing this, has ignored the will of more than 20,000 CPA players.

"This was not unexpected. It is disappointing, but it doesn't change our single-minded approach in representing all our members. This isn't about granting us speaking access. It's about fixing fixtures."

The CPA have once again formally asked for the All-Ireland quarter-final round-robin proposals, being promoted by Central Council, to be parked until more wide-ranging discussions can take place.

The call comes as the motion for 'super eights', as they are increasingly known, in addition to motions for an August conclusion and extra-time for all championship games with the exception of provincial and All-Ireland finals, edge closer to gaining a two-thirds majority.

Five Ulster counties - Donegal, Cavan, Monaghan, Armagh and Antrim - will be supporting while Derry will back the earlier All-Ireland finals and extra-time motions. Kerry, Dublin, Limerick, Meath and Waterford are also committed to supporting reform.

GAA director-general Páraic Duffy has accepted the invitation from nine counties to explain the motions, which are being put forward as a three-year experiment.

"Once again we ask, why can these proposals that have been promoted so aggressively and single-mindedly by the GAA not be parked, so that we can get the right solution in place for our players?" asked Briody.

"We are pleading with Congress to stand up for the grassroots of the GAA and to reject this proposal in favour of a real and meaningful consultation with all stakeholders.

"We need meaningful change to ease the difficulties encountered by county boards and the uncertainty felt by all players."

He also pointed to the growing financial weight of preparing inter-county teams. "They (counties) are already groaning under the financial weight of running county teams. Over €23million at least was spent nationally last year. The proposed 'Super 8' idea adds more time, more costs and doesn't help solve the issues of club fixtures."

Briody outlined that they have been feeling the wrath from their members over fixtures since their membership drive accelerated.

"Players throughout the country have watched in growing frustration and increasing anger as their views have been systematically ignored.

"They have waited to see concrete club fixture proposals coming from the GAA. We have met Páraic (Duffy) and asked the question repeatedly 'If not now, when will the GAA address the issue of club players and the fixtures programme?' There has been nothing forthcoming for the club player," he said.

There was also a broadside at RTE over their coverage of the issue on the Sunday night highlights programme.

"On Sunday night players watched as the 'Sunday Game' blatantly promoted one side of the problem. The fact that RTE are a sponsor of the championship and therefore had a conflicted interest wasn't lost on our members as RTE licence-payers."

RTE were previous hurling championship sponsors in 2008 and 2009 but that arrangement then finished. They are, however, GAA media partners with rights to a majority of championship games.

"We can't understand this reluctance to consider every alternative. This problem won't fix itself," the statement continued.

"Our agenda is simple, and it's not about financial demands, or commercial endorsements, or putting in requests for equipment or nutrition to county boards as has been suggested. It is about players playing games. That is what the GAA was established to do. That's what players want to do."

The CPA have also devised their own fixtures schedule but will not release it, according to Moyles, until they get sitting around a table with all other stakeholders. They also hope to increase membership to 50,000 by April.

Irish Independent

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