GAA annual congress: GPA say ‘No’ to Sky Sports motion
Association will support proposed switch of the under-21 football grade to under-20
The GPA believe that the financial benefits of the Sky Sports association with the GAA will benefit their members. Photograph: Andrew Paton/Inpho
The Gaelic Players Association has called for a ‘No’ vote on Sky Sports motion before this weekend’s GAA annual congress. The proposal, from Dublin, is that all championship matches be broadcast free to air and that the subscription-viewing contract with Sky Sports for certain championship matches not be renewed when it expires this summer.
In a statement realised on Thursday afternoon, GPA chair Séamus Hickey said: “Any such move would be seen by the inter-county playing body as wholly regressive as it would deny the GAA the ability to negotiate the very best possible deal on behalf of the Association.
“From a players’ perspective the commercial reality of this situation is that increased funding means greater support for player welfare not to mention the wider benefits to the GAA in terms of coaching, games promotion, infrastructure and facilities. It should also be noted that not every ‘free-to-air’ channel is available to GAA members in the Six Counties.”
The GPA stated however that it will support “the Central Council motion containing the proposed switch of the under-21 football grade to under-20, a recommendation contained in last year’s GPA Student Report and one specifically aimed at the cohort of players most under pressure from multiple squad responsibility.
“Such a move would provide an excellent first step in tackling the problems which are manifest for players between the ages of 18 and 21.”
The players’ body also re-iterated its opposition to the motion seeking to introduce an All-Ireland B football championship, in which some of the players potentially eligible for participation have already declared they will refuse to play. The association repeated its call for the establishment of a sub-committee to look again at football championship reform.
“Following Congress, the GPA will be making a formal representation to the GAA on behalf of the wider football membership in relation to the setting up of a working group to develop a new football championship format. This is considered by players, supporters and officials to be imperative in relation to tackling the on-going issue of the football season at both club and county level.”