Monday 18 November 2019

'Politics and tradition' sending big games to wrong venues – Duffy

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Paraic Duffy has called for an end to the "traditional practice and politics" associated with fixing venues for mainstream GAA matches.

Duffy believes that "the highest level of comfort for the maximum number of people" is not always met in decisions on venues and admits frustration that neither he nor the GAA president have an input into where a game is played.

Citing a 2009 report on spectator habits, compiled in conjunction with the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, he said the criteria as set out in this document have to be met by all fixture makers.

Duffy does not mention specific games in his report but it is known that there was disappointment in Croke Park that the Munster hurling final went to Pairc Ui Chaoimh last year when Waterford were agreeable to Thurles despite playing Tipperary, and that the Kildare-Roscommon fourth-round qualifier did not form part of a double-header with Meath and Laois in Croke Park.

The belief was that attendances were impacted by the decisions on venues made here.

"It was disappointing to observe that a number of high-profile games in 2012 were fixed for venues that met none of the criteria for achieving maximum attendances," he writes.

"Venues with superior facilities, better seating and easier journeys for supporters were sometimes not selected. CCC committees have a responsibility at all levels to select venues that meet the criteria identified in the 2009 research. It is no longer good enough that venues are selected on account of politics or traditional practice," he adds.

"Key officers at national and provincial level must be allowed some input into venue selection for key games, within their area of responsibility.

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"I cannot speak with certainty in all cases about the level of input into venue selection at provincial level of the main provincial officers, but it is frustrating that, at national level, neither the uachtaran nor the ard stiurthoir have the opportunity to provide an input into venue selection for key matches.

"At the very least, we need to establish clear and transparent criteria for the evaluation and selection of venues."

Speaking after the publication of the report, Duffy stressed that it was time to end the practice of home and away arrangements that didn't maximise crowd attendance.

"Personally I would prefer we didn't have those arrangements. The provincial council should look at its needs in terms of which venue will attract the biggest number of people to the highest level of comfort. To me that's the criteria."

Duffy said his comments shouldn't be taken in the context of the decision Ulster Council must make next month on the venue for Tyrone v Donegal in the provincial quarter-final.

"That game will attract a big crowd anyway. It might attract more in Clones because the capacity is bigger but there are other reasons why I can understand it being played in Ballybofey. I wasn't thinking of that when I made the comments."

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