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Inter-county players are not the GAA's problem child, insist GPA



GAA Director-General Tom Ryan. Photo: Sportsfile

GAA Director-General Tom Ryan. Photo: Sportsfile


GAA Director-General Tom Ryan. Photo: Sportsfile

The Gaelic Players Association (GPA) have hit out at the GAA's annual report, insisting the county game is "once again being presented as the GAA's problem child".

The report, released on Tuesday, showed record annual revenue of almost €74m but also warned against the spiralling costs of preparing inter-county teams, which showed an €11.6m increase on 2018.

"Quite apart from being sustainable, it is not desirable," GAA director-general Tom Ryan said. "Yes, counties will invariably secure the funds they need, but at the cost of immense pressure on the officers. This outlay represents a huge proportion of our collective resources. So the other unseen cost is all of the other GAA plans in a county that are foregone or neglected - coaching, club support, facilities and so on."

However, in a blistering statement released last night, GPA CEO Paul Flynn branded Ryan's comments as "disappointing" that the "so-called unsustainable costs" were at the focus of the GAA's attention.

"It is disappointing for our members, that the inter-county game to which they dedicate 31 hours of their time each week, as they proudly represent their counties, is once again being presented as the GAA's problem child," read the statement. 

"Far from being a problem child, inter-county games, and the players that make them the spectacle that they are, continue to be the jewel in the crown of the GAA."

The GPA also pointed out that they wanted to build towards "a modern form of sustainable amateurism and that GPA members, through inter-county games, help generate a vast percentage of that record revenue.

"The GAA proudly stated on the publication of their Annual Accounts that for every €1 revenue it takes in, it reinvests 84 cent across the association for which it should be rightly commended. 

"Our inter-county games are the revenue-generating machine that allows the GAA to compete with rugby, soccer and other sports for hearts and minds of the Irish public. 

"Our inter-county games are the flagship promotional and developmental tool that keeps the GAA in the news and journalists, pundits, administrators, coaches, physios and all the other professionals working within the inter-county games in jobs. Our inter-county games allow the GAA to thrive on the field and financially."

Relations between the GPA and GAA have been strained of late as the two organisations look to negotiate a new deal. The players' body negotiated a lucrative agreement which included a 15 per cent cut of the GAA's commercial revenues in 2016.

That arrangement expired last year but while neogtiations are ongoing, the GPA will continue to be funded to the same extent in 2020. On Tuesday, Ryan stated that he was "fairly confident" a deal would be struck soon.

Irish Independent