Wednesday 22 November 2017

Championship structure will be vastly different in 10 years -- review chief McGee

Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

THE current structure of the football championship won't see another 10 years, according to chairman of the Football Review Committee (FRC) Eugene McGee.

The former All-Ireland winning manager revealed that the format of the championship, the increasing prevalence of the handpass and the length of the season are some of the main issues that have been raised with regard to the future of football.

But with the committee now seeking input from the general public, McGee expects a wide variety of opinion on how football should progress.

"In 10 years' time, we surely won't be having the same provincial championship," he said. "Mayo playing their first championship match eight weeks after Longford -- that sort of stuff won't go on. Young men won't put up with that today. That's not going to happen.

"(The options include) the standard open draw and the Champions League style. Then there are people who have gone to extraordinary lengths to plan the whole season from January to November on a completely different championship.

"Obviously change has to come, but it's not going to change next week. Maybe this will be a major plank and at least be a catalyst for change."

Irish Independent columnist McGee was speaking at the launch of the FRC's website, where they have posted a questionnaire to canvass the largest possible body of opinion on the state of football. They will also produce a statistical analysis of the evolution of football from the 1970s to the present day, with particular emphasis on the last 10 years.

"People don't realise how quickly these things can come in. I was involved in the 1970s with the Kerry-Dublin stuff and people said the handpass would be a one-day wonder," said McGee. "At that time, you could throw the ball into the net.

"But it's still there and it went from strength to strength. The handpass, even though a lot of people object to it, may become the natural way of transferring in the game.

"The change from handpass to footpass... it was 1:1 (ratio) (in the 1970s) and it's 3:1 today."

McGee heads up the FRC, which includes Killian Burns (Kerry), Paul Earley (Roscommon), Tim Healy (Cork), Ciaran McBride (Tyrone), John Tobin (Galway), Tony Scullion (Derry) and Declan Darcy, with former Leitrim and Dublin footballer Darcy encouraging responses, whether negative or positive.

"We want to hear everyone's views," insisted Darcy. "We want to hear the giving out, the bad stuff -- we kind of know the good stuff.

"Croke Park might want to push it under the carpet when it suits them, but we'll expose it. If there's any bad stuff there and there's a vibe for (change), we'll put it on the table.

"We won't be shy of presenting a negative comment or a vibe. We'll put it on the GAA table and we'll make sure they hear about it."

The FRC are seeking submissions via the website www.frc.ie, via e-mail on frc@gaa.ie or by post to FRC, c/o Communications Dept, Croke Park, Dublin 3.

The committee plan to produce a document before the end of the year, with the possibility that rule changes could come before Congress next April.

"We are supposed to have it done by November and we will stick by it so that (GAA president Liam O'Neill) can start over the winter months and see what the next step is and move quickly forward," McGee said. "He's adamant it's not going to be sitting around for two years."

Irish Independent

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