Friday 9 December 2016

Flaws in proposed formats set to keep football revamp on ice

Published 06/01/2016 | 02:30

The scoreboard tells a grim tale at the end of last summer’s Leinster SFC clash between Dublin and Longford in Croke Park, but there’s no major overhaul in sight for the championship which means that one-sided contests are set to continue. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile
The scoreboard tells a grim tale at the end of last summer’s Leinster SFC clash between Dublin and Longford in Croke Park, but there’s no major overhaul in sight for the championship which means that one-sided contests are set to continue. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile

The structure of the football championships may not be subjected to any change at all as Central Council prepares to consider distilled versions of the submissions made from various counties and units of the association.

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A meeting next week will determine if counties can find consensus around one motion to go forward to Congress at the end of February. From 18 proposals, including one from the Gaelic Players' Association which has been spiked, three have been put forward for consideration by the Central Competition Controls Committee (CCCC) who reviewed them.

CCCC feel these three motions capture much of what was in the majority of the proposals. But the prospect of change looks limited with the CCCC review pointing out flaws in each of the proposals going forward to next week's meeting.

With a two-thirds majority required, building enough support for any of the three motions to carry at Congress looks extremely difficult at this stage.

Counties still have the facility to send motions seeking change to Congress unilaterally but their prospect of success, without Central Council support, looks limited. With a desire to retain, not just the provincial championships but also their status, the scope for change is limited. CCCC synopsised the 18 submissions and established that 11 wanted some form of 'B' championship.

In contrast, the GPA steered away from the concept of a 'B' championship, as the majority of players they had canvassed wanted to remain part of the mainstream championship - something which its chief executive Dessie Farrell outlined last year.

One of the three proposals left allows for a 'B' championship for the eight teams in Division 4 at the conclusion of the league (including the two relegated Division 3 teams), unless one of those teams reached a provincial final when they will be replaced by the next lowest-placed team in Division 3. The winners of the 'B' championship will be given All-Ireland qualifier status the following year regardless of league position.

The qualifiers would press ahead over three rounds with provincial champions going directly to All-Ireland quarter-finals, beaten finalists coming in at round three and the first round involving the other 16 teams with the winners of those eight games playing off in round two.

In observations made in a recently circulated document to counties, CCCC suggested this proposal offered less successful counties "the best of both worlds" by giving them an opportunity to win their provincial championship and a competition that they have a "realistic opportunity of winning."

But the enthusiasm for a 'B' championship, despite the weight of submissions in its favour, may not be there.

The other two proposals feature different concepts. One that CCCC felt should stand seeds counties on the basis of the previous year's provincial championship and then league status.

If offers a 'graded' entry to the qualifiers. First-seeded teams will be provincial finalists from the year before, second-seeded teams will be provincial semi-finalists while third- and fourth-seeded teams will be determined by league placings after that.

The proposal places third and fourth seeds against each other in round one of qualifiers with the winners playing second-seeded teams in round two. Provincial finalists enter in round three.

But CCCC advise that this will "diminish" the worth of the provincial championships because of the link to the previous year. It also asks if the seeding system proposed will really change the championship structure that much.

A third proposal left standing for next week's meeting calls for a round robin structure in all four provincial championships, based on groups of three with a home and away game for each county.

This guarantees every county two games, albeit not one in qualifiers.

Irish Independent

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