GAA will consider easing access to club grounds

GAA will consider easing access to club grounds
Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

The GAA are believed to be giving serious consideration to ease access to club grounds before July 20 but not for playing purposes.

In discussions on the organisation’s Covid-19 advisory group, the idea of opening pitches before the beginning of phase four in the Government’s roadmap to reopening society was raised.

However, officials believe moving towards that needs to be incremental and opening up walkways around pitches would be a start.

Speaking to BBC Northern Ireland earlier this week, GAA president John Horan said: “I understand where people are coming from and we are conscious of people's wellbeing. If there is one first step that we may make in terms of loosening things up it may well be that people will be allowed access to grounds for restricted periods of time under supervision, though with no ball activity.

"If there are walkways available then the elderly in the community could go down at a particular time of the day and have a period to exercise. Then later in the day other people could do the grounds for exercise.

"If there was some structure on it then that could be reasonable, though all of these things are very fluid. That is why we are constantly in touch with each other to review the situation."

Earlier this week, it was reported that the GAA will be approaching the Irish government for financial assistance and Horan has confirmed they will also make contact with the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Without gate receipts, the GAA have been compelled to take temporary wage cuts ranging from 20% this month to 40% next month. 

On Sunday, Horan revealed that the GAA will lose out on €50 million should there be no games at all this year. However, he believes that figure could be exceeded: “The figures are large and they may even be larger than the €50m discussed the other night.”

Meanwhile, the Ladies Gaelic Football Association remains hopeful of playing some club and inter-county games this year, subject to public health guidelines.

However they yesterday recommended that "inter-county training should cease for now, and only resume when it is advised to do so."

Their statement comes alongside the results of a broad survey of county and club players, county managers, club and county board officers, and referees.

The majority (89%) felt that the priority should be given to club rather than county when football returns while 51% are hopeful of playing football at any level in 2020.

Twenty nine per cent felt it was feasible to play the TG4 Championship this year while 91% were open to the idea of playing behind closed doors if required.

The majority (46%) felt the Association should concentrate on meaningful club competition for 2020 with 32% believing that no club or county football should be played this year.

LGFA President Marie Hickey said: “I would like to thank all of our stakeholders who engaged in the surveys that were sent out, and completed last weekend.

“The various responses made for interesting reading and it was important to gauge the views of players, managers, referees and officials. We all look forward to the time when we can safely return to training and playing games.

“Until then, I would once again urge all of our members to continue adhering to current Covid-19 guidelines, and I wish everybody well during these challenging and unprecedented times.”

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