Joe Brolly: The GAA in 2050 will be a commercialised and soulless place - but there's one man who can save it

Joe Brolly (inset) want Dublin GAA chief executive John Costello to take over from Paraic Duffy as Director General of the GAA

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Joe Brolly has endorsed the man he feels can save the GAA from becoming a corporate entity and return it to being the 'greatest community organisation on the planet'

Brolly pointed to the Sky deal, rock concerts (this summer it was U2 and Coldplay) on the week before big games at Croke Park leading to poor pitch conditions and having to reschedule the All-Ireland football semi-final replay between Kerry and Mayo in 2014 for Limerick because it clashed with a game of American Football at GAA HQ as evidence of the growing commercialisation of our national games.

The Derry native also claims that all manager's are paid now and that there is a very corporatised atmosphere among the players.

"There is a slow takeover of the upper levels of the GAA now. It's becoming entrenched, you see it every day. It's becoming normalised," he told Independent.ie GAA podcast The Throw-In.

"The GAA is supposed to be a shared journey, we are supposed to own the GAA.

"The GAA will end up like cricket with all the games on pay-per-view.

"An All Ireland final at Kentucky Fried Chicken Park?  It might not be that far away.  We're seeing the slow infiltration of corporate capitalism into the GAA.  The GAA leadership sound like the CEOs of a merchant bank nowadays.

"As participation levels slowly but surely drop off more and more we become an audience sport like any professional sport.

"If the inter county scene is the be all and end all, and the club scene gets forgotten about and then what’s the point in playing Gaelic games?  Clubs are increasingly becoming an inconvenience and GAA HQ is so embedded with corporations they don’t know how to solve it."

The Sunday Independent columnist believes Dublin GAA chief executive John Costello is the man to revolutionise our national games.

"The next big hope would be the next election for Director General. They ran a mile from Pat Gilroy because they thought they couldn't control him and they decided to get an insider, an administrator from the inside," he added.

"The GAA are very good when it comes to administration, absolutely hopeless when it comes to strategy.

"Someone like John Costello, who has proven himself not only as an administrator but a strategist and a visionary... make no mistake about it, what has happened in Dublin would never had happened without John Costello being at the helm. A visionary, a tremendous GAA man, a communitarian but he also understands, intimately, how to get the right relationship with commerce.

"Look at the financial driver that Dublin GAA is now, look at the deals he has donw, look at what Costello has put in place already and yet, you look at the Dublin backroom team and not one of them get a penny for being involved.

"It's a cardinal principle, Jim Gavin and Pat Gilroy before him. All the people around Jim Gavin... not a penny.

"They are doing things the right way.

"Whenever Paraic Duffy steps down, instead of an insider who'll continue that culture of us languishing towards the end of the GAA, which is happening, you could have soemeone like Costello who could turn everything around."

So what does Joe think should happen first?

"The first thing I would do is change Congress into what it already is, a talking shop. We would have a board of directors that could be hired or sacked depending on performance and that would be the starting point," he said.

"They would have a free hand to run the GAA in essence and they would do things that are logical, the way any other association would do it.

"You would have a proper championship structure, you would have a rest period.. an off-season, you would have a much shorter county calendar, you would look again at sponsorship and money and it would have to be ethical and in line with what the GAA is about.

"You would have a have a proper club season and give the GAA back to where it belongs.

"You'd have a festival of county football during the summer for a couple of months, it would bring in all the money you would need etc. You'd just recalibrate everything.

"It wouldn't be a huge task."

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