'Club players will continue to be disrespected' - Association withdraws from GAA's fixtures task force

'Club players will continue to be disrespected' - Association withdraws from GAA's fixtures task force

The Club Players Association has withdrawn from the GAA's Fixtures Calendar Review task force in frustration, slamming the committee as a "Trojan Horse" which it claims was set up merely to "ratify the status quo".

The CPA, founded almost three years ago to "fix the fixtures" and to help implement a concrete schedule for club players, confirmed the move at a press briefing this morning.

Media were handed a pack containing a lengthy statement along with details of all the CPA's contributions to the task force which was initially set up at the behest of GAA President John Horan last June.

The CPA was represented on the fixtures task force and, according to today's statement, the group 'put forward concrete fixtures plans at the start of the process which were not entertained'.

The CPA statement added: "The CPA was the only member of the group to develop further plans during the process, responding to feedback in good faith. While not perfect, we believe these two plans are superior to any currently being advocated by the task force. We hoped at least one would be adopted into the final report but when we asked for a vote on November 6 to measure support, we were refused. This is not a matter of sour grapes but illustrates in our view a reluctance to take on board differing views. Our mantra has been 'it is not who is right but what is right for the Association'."

The CPA confirmed their withdrawal from the process in a letter emailed to Fixtures Calendar Review task force chairman Eddie O'Sullivan yesterday.

That letter, signed off by CPA secretary Michael Higgins, states that they entered the process 'in good faith, in the hope that "nothing was off the table". With the publication of the report due to be sent to Central Council shortly, we cannot in good conscience put our names to such a compromised document'.

In our opinion, the process has been designed to ensure that the 'Improved status quo' option is successful, squandering a unique opportunity for real and effective change. Club players across the country will continue to be disrespected and disenfranchised and inter-county players will continue to have too much demanded of them.

The fixtures task force was set up with an apparent remit to look at all aspects of the GAA calendar and to make recommendations that may lead to a streamlined and more workable fixtures calendar.

"Task force members were then sent an email on August 1 suggesting three 'broad options' for consideration," stated the CPA.

"In the same email, the members were asked to review the submissions from the general public. Despite our best efforts, the three 'broad options' suggested on August 1 dominated subsequent discussions. This not only made a mockery of asking the public for their opinions but it also contradicted the notion that 'everything was on the table'."

From left, Joan Kehoe, CPA Executive member, Michael Higgins, CPA Secretary, Michéal Briody, CPA Chairman, and Liam Griffin, CPA Executive member, during today's Club Players Association Press Conference. Pic: Sportsfile
From left, Joan Kehoe, CPA Executive member, Michael Higgins, CPA Secretary, Michéal Briody, CPA Chairman, and Liam Griffin, CPA Executive member, during today's Club Players Association Press Conference. Pic: Sportsfile

The CPA has described one of the task force's three options as close enough to retaining the status quo and argued that the task force was convened to give the "appearance of consultation and thoughtful deliberation".

The CPA said: "In reality, it will simply be a ratification process for the newly introduced Tier Two football championship and retention of the Super 8s. Proposals that stand the best chance of getting through the decision-making process at Congress are not the same thing as the best proposals for the future of the GAA."

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