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Eugene McGee: Croke Park must take from rich and give to poor

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Carlow's 28-point defeat to Meath was just one of a number of one-sided games in this year's Leinster championship. Photo: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

Carlow's 28-point defeat to Meath was just one of a number of one-sided games in this year's Leinster championship. Photo: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

Carlow's 28-point defeat to Meath was just one of a number of one-sided games in this year's Leinster championship. Photo: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

The GAA has a lot of money at its disposal nowadays. The level of commercial sponsorship continues to increase and attendances at those games that are under the control of the Central Council has remained steady and seems sure to increase when the economy improves.

Concerts in Croke Park can add millions in a year also.

Many GAA people do not understand how the GAA receives its money and many think all the gate receipts end up in Croke Park. Not so.

The only gate receipts that are received by the GAA's central authority in Croke Park are those from the All-Ireland quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals.

All other Championship money, including the lucrative six provincial finals in football and hurling, is controlled by the various Provincial Councils, not Croke Park.

What this means is that the distribution of income within the different sections of the GAA is haphazard at best and ridiculous at worst.

By the way, the National League revenue is divided in yet another different manner just to confuse people even more.

Roughly speaking, League money is pooled nationally, with participating counties getting about a third of the revenue from each League game and the rest going to a national pool, which is then allocated pro-rata to all 32 counties at the end.

With this rather complicated system of distributing the GAA's income, it is no wonder that discrepancies and unfairness can prevail.

Large counties get bigger crowds and therefore more income.

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This field is required

Often GAA bodies distribute money based on the number of clubs and once again the small counties lose out.

Hidden in there in the vaults of Croke Park nowadays is a body called the National Financial Management Committee (NFMC), which takes an overall view of handling the GAA's money to ensure that the old systems are changing and fairness and equality will apply more in future.

Interesting

Last week in this newspaper Martin Breheny published a lot of interesting information about the work in hand by the NFMC, which indicates that for the first time the GAA will attempt to pay lesser counties according to their financial needs rather than their previous status based on club affiliations.

In recent years a lot of once-off payments have been made to smaller counties but it is intended from now on to create a more level playing field, which will inevitably involve some money being taken from the rich and given to the poor.

That will probably mean that Dublin could lose out because they have been granted huge amounts of money over the past decade. For instance, the Dublin annual grant for coaching and games development of €1.5m is a quarter of that budget for the entire 32 counties.

Now, anybody who knows anything about the GAA in Dublin will realise that this money is being very well spent - indeed it is probably the best investment the GAA ever made.

It is a mistake to simply measure the success of the GAA in Dublin in terms of what the county teams win - far more important is the development of the game throughout the county, especially in areas where there has hardly ever been a GAA presence.

But the biggest problem facing football in particular is that over 20 counties have little or no chance of winning the All-Ireland, and many have no chance of winning a provincial title either.

This is demoralising for those counties, and if the GAA can spend more money wisely and under strict control, it could improve the quality of the game through high-grade coaching and other preparation in those counties.

That is what the GAA should be doing from now on, and forget about building Taj Mahal-type stadiums that will never be filled, of which we have too many already.

These ideas from the NFMC seem to be aimed in the right direction.

The GAA has lots of money - but they need to use it to promote the games above all.

That is the way to keep the counties strong - all the counties.

 

Ten questions of public interest that the GPA needs to answer

Most GAA people know little or nothing about the GPA but if they consult their website they will get plenty of information.

Here are a few questions of interest to the GAA public that you will not see answered on the website:

1. How many players are registered, paid-up members of the GPA? And how many players attended the recent AGM of the GPA?

2. Are the detailed financial statements of the GPA available for disclosure to all GAA members as with other branches of the GAA? If not why not ?

3. How much money per year is given to the GPA from the GAA?

4. How many Dublin players have been beneficiaries of funding in any capacity from the GPA in the past three years?

5. How many players from Leitrim or Longford have been beneficiaries of funding in any capacity from the GPA in the past three years?

6. Is it the policy of the GPA to insist on players being compensated for loss of wages if a game is fixed for a weekday thereby preventing such games being played, as happened to the scheduled Carlow v Laois fixture?

7. How many paid employees, full-time and part-time, are working for the GPA?

8. How does the GPA intend to make proposals for change in relation to fixtures, Championship structures and similar matters? Will they put forward motions to Congress through county boards?

9. What is the view of the GPA regarding members who travel abroad for the summer months leaving their clubs without their services?

10. Will the GPA always exclude club players only from services supplied by the GPA and presently paid for by the GAA?


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