Yellow card proposals to be modified for Congress


Changes will be made to the Football Review Committee’s (FRC) controversial yellow card proposals to ensure they have the best possible chance of being voted into rule at Congress in March.

That, in fact, was always the intention, according to FRC chairman Eugene McGee, who outlined to The Irish Times what he sees as the likely modifications over coming weeks, starting with full clarification of the new, stricter yellow card offences.

“First of all these weren’t the actual motions to Congress, only the proposals,” says McGee. “Croke Park was always going to look at them themselves, to legalise them, write them in GAA language, quoting the other rules, or whatever, to bring them into rule. Because bringing a motion to Congress is a different animal altogether.

“Some work has already been done on that, since we published our report, and I think it’s fairly obvious that the yellow card proposal, as we had anticipated it, is more difficult to put into practice, in line with say some other rules, because it is that bit more complicated.

“We also felt there was an overreaction, anyway, to our proposal about the yellow card, that people didn’t understand. So we always felt obliged to rewrite it, so that everyone understands it.”

The first half of the FRC report, published last month, concerns playing rules, principally the problem of cynical fouling – the “highest rated dislike” about the game, according to submissions. In combating this, the FRC proposed a number of disciplinary measures, including the yellow card provision, not too unlike that trialled (and later rejected) in the 2009 National Leagues.

It calls for a player receiving a yellow card to leave the field for the remainder of the match, with a replacement allowed.

Players who accumulate three yellow cards in the same year should be suspended for two matches, while teams which accumulate three cards in the one match will not be able to replace any further players picking up yellow cards.

Instant dismissal

“I think some people have got the wrong impression,” explains McGee, “that we’re saying all the old yellow card offences are going to be immediately subject to instant dismissal. That is not the case, because the whole idea of it was to eliminate the more cynical type of fouling, and deliberate pulling, which stops the more wholesome team from playing proper football. That, from all our submissions, was crime number one.

“Our yellow card proposal was one answer to that, but we never meant every yellow card offence, because of course that would be ludicrous. There might be only half of each team left on at half-time, with that. It was only going to be for the more serious, very cynical, yellow card offences, deliberately pulling down a player being the most obvious one, in order to stop the play, not even try to win the ball off him.”

GAA director general Páraic Duffy expressed his own concerns about the FRC proposal on yellow cards over the weekend, and whether it would be passed at Congress without some modification. McGee is in full agreement.

“Like I had people coming up to me, saying surely we aren’t going to send a player off after five minutes, for a foul say, of pushing someone in the back. No. That was only the very superficial analysis of it. But we were never going to start sending players off left, right and centre, after just five minutes.

“What we’ll probably do is list the actual fouls that will result in this yellow card, the ones we are most concerned about, and once we identify them, that they will be treated differently to what before might have been an ordinary yellow card.

Cynical fouling

“So bearing all that in mind, this proposal was always going to be rewritten in some way, but the rationale and spirit, to punish cynical fouling, will remain the same. We just have to make sure that the implementation of it is so clear that everyone will understand it.”

With Congress set for Derry, on March 22/23rd, slightly earlier than other years, McGee also agreed with Duffy’s suggestion that the FRC hold off on the second half of their report, concerning championship structures, until later in the year.

“Well it was never really meant for this Congress, anyway,” said McGee. “We thought at the very beginning we could do both aspects of the report in one year, but we got overwhelmed with the reaction to the rules proposals, so swarmed, we needed the break anyway.So there is no urgency on that.

“Nothing would be happening this year, anyway. It will be the 2014 championship before any changes would be made, so that allows for maybe a special congress at the end of this year, is so desired. We also have to talk closely with each of the provincial councils to see what they might be agreeable to, because we’re not just going around like sales reps, trying to sell a product. We need to know what product is actually wanted in the first place.”

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