WHILE they ultimately have no say in what is going to happen on the ‘Payments to Managers’ issue, the people at the heart of the matter – the managers – are starting to let their feelings be known on the subject.
Mick O’Dwyer, arguably the most famous figure to walk a GAA sideline, yesterday accused Croke Park’s top brass of going “overboard” with the ‘Payments to Managers’ discussion document, and called on the mileage rate to be upped to assist inter-county players.
GAA president Christy Cooney is on record as stating his preference is for ‘inhouse’ appointments, who are less likely to be paid.
This view does not sit well with the Waterville maestro, who suggested that, with the GAA’s infrastructure in better shape than ever, the time could be right to hand more control of finances back to county boards and also offer players a considerable hike in expenses. “I think they are going overboard,” said O’Dwyer, who oversaw the most successful era in the history of Kerry football when he guided the Kingdom to eight All-Ireland titles in 12 years.
“It has been proved over the years that if you bring in an outside manager at times it helps to bring on a club or county, and I think there is nothing wrong with that.
“What I would like to see happening more than any other thing is that they would increase the mileage rate for players going to training, because they have big mortgages and they might give them maybe a euro a mile instead of 50c.
“I’d also like to see all gates in the country in league and championship divided three ways. Central funds would get one third and the two competing counties get the remaining two-thirds, and then county boards would be in a good position. Our infrastructure now is quite sufficient now, it’s great.”
Describing modern-day management as “nearly a full-time job,” O’Dwyer did back the notion of official remuneration for managers “in some small way,” but added “nobody wants this game to become professional.”
“The whole workload is on the shoulders of the management to organise players and training and make sure they are looked after, so they should be remunerated in some small way,” he said.
“But whatever they are going to do this time, let them do something definite – that is the important thing.” Louth boss Peter Fitzpatrick, who took over his native county ahead of the 2010 campaign, agrees with O’Dwyer’s contention that outside managers still have a role to play and also backed the notion of official remuneration.
And Fitzpatrick reasoned that, with the short life-span of an inter-county manager and the pressures involved, a pre-arranged fee, which would apply across the board, might be the best way forward. “It would be an open and transparent way of doing things, which is what we don’t have now,” the Fine Gael TD told the Irish Independent last night.
“Everyone knows people are getting money outside of what is allowed for in the rules, but nobody wants to point the finger. And everyone knows that the mileage rate at the minute doesn’t cover your expenses when you’re managing a team. With all the comings and goings, you are going to be out money.
“Managers generally only last two or three years now, and the buck stops with him. He has to take the blame. And a few extra pounds isn’t going to change things hugely.
“It is very, very time-consuming and there are serious pressures involved. People want success, but you have to remember that only one team can win the All-Ireland this year and only one team can win Leinster and only two teams can get promoted in the league.
“So, no matter what you do, you are going to have a lot of teams who won’t be happy with their season and that brings pressure.
“I’m in my third year of doing this job. And I’ve found that you need your family behind you. I’m lucky in that my wife is football-mad. If she wasn’t, I don’t know how manageable it would be, given the time commitment involved. If you have that you’re okay, because after playing yourself, managing is the next best thing.”
Fitzpatrick’s fellow member of Dail Eireann, John O’Mahony, has already spoken about the need for transparency and why he would favour managers receiving some sort of official payment. The man who led Galway to two All- Ireland SFC titles argues that the motivation for the vast majority of managers is the desire to win, not to make money. “Why not legitimise payments to managers and bring transparency to it?” he asked.
The players, of course, are another major shareholder in this issue and Gaelic Players Association chief executive Dessie Farrell asserted that their membership would have no issue if managers were to be paid in an official capacity, stating their “unique contribution” should be recognised “We submitted a paper to Croke Park outlining our views on the matter. SURVEY “That document was based on a survey of our membership in late 2009/early 2010,” said Farrell.
“We asked players, firstly, do they have an issue with managers being paid? Just under 70pc said no. We then asked the question, if managers were paid, would it be likely to force you as a player to look for remuneration yourself? It was close to 75pc who said no, it didn’t.
“We were satisfied that the issue of managers being paid wasn’t a problem for our members, nor was it going to lead to any issues with them down the line.
“We felt it would be better for the association if managers were paid, because it would remove this constant issue from the agenda. We recognise the unique contribution that managers are making. It has also been forgotten in the recent discourse that managers are making a huge contribution to the promotion of our games.”