CPA opposes proposals to reform football championship

Players association calls on GAA director general to withdraw motion from congress

Club Players’ Association chairman Michael Briody: The new organisation has a membership of 15,000. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Club Players’ Association chairman Michael Briody: The new organisation has a membership of 15,000. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

 

The newly-established Club Players’ Association has declared its opposition to proposals to reform the All-Ireland football championship. These were the brainchild of GAA director general Páraic Duffy and will be debated by February’s annual congress.

Essentially they provide for a round-robin format at the quarter-final stage and that the All-Ireland finals be brought forward to the end of August.

In a statement issued on Monday and signed by association chair Micheál Briody, the CPA stated that it would oppose the new format and called on Duffy to withdraw the motion from congress pending further discussions to “address the fixtures issue for all players”. It was also disclosed that the new organisation had already attracted a membership of 15,000.

There are three points in the statement – calling for recognition of the CPA and the establishment of a fixtures think tank are the others – but the opposition to the Duffy proposals is the most striking given that the director general launches his annual report on Tuesday with just a month to go to congress.

According to Briody, the CPA believes that they must oppose the reforms because were they to be accepted it would be another two years before they could “realistically” be reviewed.

Opposition is based on the following considerations:

“They do not fully take on board the need for an agreed fixtures programme for club players, or take account of legitimate concerns raised including club player welfare and wellbeing, holidays and closed season.

“They are detrimental towards hurling, and in their presented form are creating an unwelcome imbalance in the association, especially at a time when hurling nationally needs renewed focus. Both games must be given parity of esteem. This is non-negotiable.

“The proposals pre-date the establishment of the Club Players’ Association. The view expressed to us by club players who are the majority playing population, is that club fixtures need to be fully considered in any proposals going forward.”

The first and third paragraphs essentially concern the same issue – producing a fixtures’ schedule before agreeing any additions to the inter-county season. Yet Duffy’s proposals include the clearing of September for club activity. At the CPA launch in early January, secretary Declan Brennan said in his opinion the All-Ireland finals should be moved forward to the August bank holiday weekend.

The second paragraph concerns fears that the additional All-Ireland football fixtures will overshadow the hurling championship.

There has been no response so far from the GAA but the matter is certain to be raised at Tuesday morning’s media conference to launch Duffy’s annual report.

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