Friday 6 December 2019

Time has come for GAA to give players fair share

Inter-county stars deserve some percentage of millions they generate for the Association

Another full house at Croke Park, this time for the All-Ireland hurling final replay between Kilkenny and Tipperary, but when will players get a percentage of the revenue?
Another full house at Croke Park, this time for the All-Ireland hurling final replay between Kilkenny and Tipperary, but when will players get a percentage of the revenue?

Colm Parkinson

Eugene McGee recently predicted that pay-for-play is on the way in the GAA in about 10-15 years. In response, last week at the Web Summit, GPA chairman Donal Og Cusack disagreed, saying "I think it's actually a more wholesome model that we have in the association."

By Donal's own admission, his views on a professional game have changed over the course of his career. In fact, the GPA's views on professionalism seem to have changed too.

Several years ago it was estimated that GAA players lose out on €175,000 in wages foregone during a ten-year county career.

The GPA wanted players to be compensated and believed Government grants were the answer. So determined were they that in November 2007, after years of campaigning, a ballot of their members was ordered, in which, according to the GPA, 95pc of their members agreed to strike action if the grants were not supported by the GAA.

Such overwhelming support by inter-county footballers and hurlers for strike action highlighted players' desire for monetary compensation. Where has that desire gone?

The grants were awarded after the agreement was passed by GAA Congress in April 2008 with the GPA stating: "Payment of this funding represents a massive delivery on the part of the players' association - one which we believe will have a significant bearing on the future of our games."

Unfortunately, the grants are now almost worthless to players due to Government cutbacks resulting from the recession, and the GPA appear to have stopped pushing the issue.

I believe players still deserve to be looked after and not by the Government, but by the association they create millions of euros for every year - the GAA.

I'm not suggesting a full-time professional game with inter-county transfers etc, but instead a percentage of gate receipts which players essentially are responsible for generating.

Give them a percentage of all gate receipts, pool the money together, and share it out at the end of a season on a pro rata basis similar to the Government grants allocation.

GAA players are professional in every aspect of training and preparation.

Supporters, commentators and pundits demand a 'professional' approach to preparations by both management and players - however, when the subject of paying players arises, suddenly their argument is that it's an 'amateur' sport.

Maybe pay-for-play is inevitable but it will only happen if the players and their representatives, the GPA, make it happen like they did in 2008.

Irish Independent

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