Big GAA guns gear up against payment for managers
Three of the most high-profile GAA counties have virtually shut the door on any sliver of hope that managers may be paid in the future.
Kerry, Kilkenny and Galway will all travel to Saturday's special meeting in Croke Park with mandates to support Option Two in the report compiled by GAA director general Paraic Duffy.
Option two calls for rigorous enforcement of the existing rules with the establishment of a registration and audit board in Croke Park.
That committee would get access to the PPS numbers of every manager and selector who wants to get involved in a club or county team, a move that is sure to attract controversy.
For all three counties, the backing for that option, as opposed to supporting payments, is understood to be unanimous, mirroring the trend across the country over the last two weeks.
But it will leave the Association open to further accusations of hypocrisy if the enforcement mechanism fails.
Some 60 clubs were represented by 127 delegates in Galway, and there was no support for the introduction of a system of regulated payments to senior inter-county managers, county secretary John Hynes confirmed yesterday.
Kilkenny clubs were also unanimous in their opposition to payment.
In Kerry, chairman Patrick O'Sullivan had flagged how unlikely it was that the county would support any move to pay managers.
"We will be sending our deliberations to Croke Park with some extra points added to show that we are not completely negative on the subject," said O'Sullivan. "We are in favour of option two."
O'Sullivan has, however, denied that Kerry will submit a view that clubs should choose managers from within their own membership and that if they don't, they should provide reasons as to why they can't.
Wexford were due to discuss their approach last night, but already it looks certain that there will be unanimity from all counties to try to enforce the rules that already exist.
In the last two weeks, Donegal, Meath, Waterford, Limerick, Tipperary and Cork have all come out against paying managers.
Under option two, prospective managers, selectors and all members of a backroom team would be obliged to submit their names, addresses, dates of birth and PPS numbers (National Insurance numbers in the case of management teams from the Six Counties) to Croke Park before November 30 for possible inspection by the audit board.
County chairmen, secretaries and treasurers would then have to sign off that all expenses to those who have registered are in line with the rules that govern the amateur status.
Any incentives or benefits in kind, like holidays or training camps, would also have to be registered.
Under the proposals, if it was found that the information was known to be inaccurate by an officer when it was signed, that officer would be liable for a heavy suspension.
County chairmen, secretaries and treasurers would then have to sign off that they were compliant with Rule 1.10 of the Official Guide, the rule that enshrines amateur status.
Clubs would have to perform a similar registration function by January 30, relating the details of all members of management of their club teams to a localised audit committee.
Club officers would also have to stand over compliance with amateur status rules and risk suspension if the rules were found to have been breached.
The audit committee would have the facility to spot-check and ensure compliance, but there is no reason to believe that detection will be any easier with this information than it is now.
Duffy accepted in his report that this attempted method of prevention will depend on the integrity and vigilance of all officials, but it would be a big improvement on the current option of doing nothing.
"The fact that this problem exists at all would suggest that these qualities have not been sufficiently present in the Association," he wrote.
"It would therefore be critical that the implementation of this model be consistent and unrelenting and that a climate be created in which it would be clear to all concerned that seeking to circumvent, ignore or subvert the procedures and checks of the registration model would not be tolerated."
The prospect of no county submitting to the view that managers should be remunerated flies in the face of the deluge of anecdotal evidence being presented on a weekly basis by leading GAA administrators.
On Monday, Leinster Council chief executive Michael Delaney even suggested that underage inter-county teams now had payment structures and he linked the deficits in several counties to the payment of managers.
Once a position is taken after Saturday's meeting, it is expected that a new committee will be established to work out the finer points of enforcing the existing rules along the lines of what Duffy has suggested.