Former GAA disputes official: Kildare have strong case against Croke Park

By John Fogarty

Former Disputes Resolution Authority secretary Jack Anderson believes Kildare have a strong case to contest the GAA’s decision to arrange their All-Ireland SFC qualifier for Croke Park instead of St Conleth’s Park.

On Twitter this morning, the Irish Examiner columnist outlined that the Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) could be caught out by a rule in the GAA Official Guide pertaining to home venues for the opening three rounds of the backdoor matches in the competition.

Limerick man Anderson, who is professor and director of Sports Law at Melbourne Law School and was two years ago appointed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, has recommended the CCCC switch the game to Newbridge and a review of their powers be undertaken later in the year.

Jack Anderson
Jack Anderson

“Under the GAA Official Guide r3.47 (a), the Central Competitions Control Committee has overall responsibility for Competition Scheduling and Arrangements for and Control of Games under the jurisdiction of the Central Council. Under the GAA Official Guide r7.11(e)(3), there is no right of appeal against a decision of the Central Competitions Control Committee or a Provincial Competitions Control Committee with regard to arrangements for the date and venue of a Game

“There is DRA authority that in exceptional circumstances a decision of a CCC can be overturned where it is unreasonable and irrational in the circumstances - high bar but can be done, eg, DRA 21 of 2016 Kilcoo GAC v Down CCC and Ulster HC.

“Kildare can argue that CCCC is unreasonably in breach of r6.28(A) (v) (2): ‘Home Venues SHALL be used in Rounds 1, 2 and 3 of the All-Ireland Qualifier Series, with first Team drawn having Home Advantage’ and only exception is ‘Venues for Rd 4 shall be determined by CCCC’.

“If there is any exception to the home venue rule in rounds 1-3 of the All-Ireland qualifiers (eg, ground capacity, health and welfare, season ticket etc) GAA probably should have thought of that beforehand and expressly given the CCCC a discretion but it didn't.

“In summary, while CCCC has wide discretionary powers (that usually can't be appealed) under GAA rules, the GAA Official Guide has expressly and clearly limited the CCCC's powers in rounds 1-3 of the qualifiers and it must give Kildare home advantage.

“If @KildareGAA go for injunctive relief in the courts, they look like they have a good arguable case and would get it on the above grounds. CCCC are not in any way willfully breaching the Guide, doing their best, just more restricted than normal by Guide and haven't realised.

“CCCC may have to back down this time and revisit matters at end of year to give themselves greater discretion with qualifiers. I would recommend that they do that: ensures game is played, Kildare get what they’re due & from next round of qualifiers (R4) CCCC have power to fix venues anyway.”

Anderson concluded that he wished to see a solution so to avoid the Championship being held up. “I hope that all sides see the sense in the above and avoid legal or even DRA route - it will cost money and time and disrupt the tight fixtures schedule, possibly impacting on the Super 8.”

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