Tuesday 6 December 2016

Off The Ball: GPA wise to play the long game

Ger Gilroy

Published 27/07/2016 | 02:30

No doubt within the Association there were fears that a militant players’ union would derail a century of amateur tradition Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile
No doubt within the Association there were fears that a militant players’ union would derail a century of amateur tradition Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile

Asked about the success or otherwise of the French Revolution during Nixon's visit to Beijing in 1972, Chinese premier Zhou Enlai apparently replied "too early to say".

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Wise heads within the GAA commentariat have had to channel their inner Zhou Enlai when considering the success or otherwise of the GPA.

No doubt within the Association there were fears that a militant players' union would derail a century of amateur tradition.

It's clear too that co-founder Donal O'Neill had a very different vision of what the GPA would be from where it is now. On the show in January he spoke about talking to talent management company IMG about a professional game at one point.

Perhaps ultimately he walked because the players who ran the GPA were playing the long game too.

The GAA's democratic structures are labyrinthine and almost impossible to navigate. It's taken an age but both the GAA and the Players Association have delivered an excellent deal for their members and they are to be congratulated for that.

The GPA's spending will come under increased scrutiny, particularly in the wake of how the not-for-profit sector has been governed in Ireland in recent years - including transparency in the salaries paid to their executive.

The GPA can't be a players' union in any meaningful definition of the word 'union' given the players don't get paid, there are no contracts and players would ultimately be striking from their hobby.

Consensus isn't sexy, it takes ages and requires patience.

It was recently claimed that Zhou Enlai was talking about the riots of 1968 rather than the French revolution. Still, sometimes it's no harm playing the long game.

Irish Independent

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