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Cash for managers will open door to pay for play

A majority of GAA players, who feel that managers should be paid, believe that players should also be paid.

"If the managers get paid, it will be very hard to hold off players from wanting payment too," one of the country's highest-profile football stars told the Sunday Independent.

"It's going to be a natural reaction from inter-county players, if the people who are drawing in the crowds are not getting anything then eventually something will give."

He also said he was "fed up" with people thinking players don't put in as much effort as the managers and that if they are getting financially rewarded then so should the players.

Last week, Páraic Duffy released his comprehensive 30-page document outlining the problems and possible solutions facing the GAA as they attempt to tidy up the whole area of prohibited payments.

Page eight of his report does devote a section to the role of the club manager, advocating that future coaches should emerge from within ranks, while there are sporadic mentions of the club scene elsewhere.

It has been claimed that at least 30 inter-county managers are being paid far above the expenses allowed under GAA guidelines.

The Sunday Independent spoke to 20 inter-county footballers and hurlers last week. They were asked if they thought managers should be paid and 60 per cent said yes. They also believed they should be paid too.


Another high-profile star expressed concern over what will happen if the problem of players wanting professionalism isn't tackled head on.

"Paying over the table is a solution to one problem but with it comes another problem. I don't think players will continue to give the level of commitment for nothing and I definitely think the GAA need to sit down and look because it's coming down the tracks at some stage.

"As time goes on it's moving away from being a voluntary organisation. You only have to look at the amount of people transferring from club to club and county to county. It's certainly being brought along by the fact that training and commitment has increased so much. Even at the lower levels the day of turning up at a junior game, putting on your jersey and going out to play is over, everyone is expected to train nowadays."

It also emerged that 60 per cent of the players believed that their inter-county manager was being paid and half felt that their club manager was being paid.

According to former GAA president Seán Kelly, the next move the Association makes on the managerial payments issue could have dire repercussions.

"We have to be very careful what we do next because it feels like we've been bounced into this situation because of intense and non-stop scrutiny from the media," he said.

"The reality is different -- the report was written and compiled some time ago but absolutely nothing was done about it for the past 12 months and that doesn't reflect greatly on us as an Association.

"I don't think we were proactive enough about seeing this report through or finding ways to solve the problem. And though the intentions were good it just appears we have been very reactive to the whole payments issue.

"So what we do next is crucial. If a system of remuneration is agreed for managers where will it stop? Particularly in these recessionary times, our players might feel: 'hang on, they are paying this fellow but they can't help me get a job.' They could react and we're in another situation then."

Arising out of yesterday's meeting in Croke Park with county board officials on Duffy's Amateur Status and Payments To Team Managers document, each county has been requested to make a written submission on the issue by February 24.

But Kelly believes that the accumulated sums of money invested by clubs are much larger than those involved at inter-county level. He reckons the only route out of that dilemma is for those units to invest in internal coaching expertise themselves.

"We need something to counteract what's going on," he added. "Clubs should make it their business to invest time into potential coaches and make sure they have expertise and knowledge built up from a young age so those people can move into coaching down the line with their own outfits.

"But in the current economic climate there's just no way clubs or counties can sustain what's going on. Coaches are coming in on big money but it only lasts a short term. A key point is that I don't think success necessarily follows them and clubs and counties should remember that."

Sunday Indo Sport