GPA chief executive Dermot Earley has called on Congress delegates to shoot down the “Super 8” All-Ireland senior football championship proposal, writes John Fogarty of the Irish Examiner.
While the official inter-county players body are wholly supportive of bringing forward the All-Ireland senior finals to August and adding the facility of extra-time to all non-final championship matches, he said the fact over 70% of inter-county panels are against the recommendation should be heeded.
“The inter-county game is the pinnacle at which players at all levels strive to play at,” he remarked in a statement this morning.
“The idea of players participating in a competition with a revised format which does not have the support of over 70% of squads is something the GPA finds impractical. The GPA is calling on delegates to oppose the motion being put to the GAA Congress this weekend.
“The GPA is reiterating the need for meaningful collaborative engagement with all stakeholders to bring about agreed change which is critically important to the future of our games.
"The GPA feels that any change should also be cognisant of the impact on all competitions including the All-Ireland Hurling Championship, Christy Ring, Nicky Rackard and Lory Meagher Cups.”
The GPA’s stance was revealed last night and reflects the one held by the newly-formed Club Players Association (CPA) who have asked GAA director general Páraic Duffy to park the motion.
The GPA, who last year had a blueprint for the football championship dismissed by the GAA, explained one of the reasons for their opposition to the “Super 8” was “the lack of sufficient and meaningful consultation with players regarding all aspects of the proposal.”
They listed others: “The fact that the proposals offer little by way of change for lower ranked counties who are traditionally less successful than those competing at the latter stages of the championship.
"The motivational impact for players competing at the lower end of the Championship which may be negatively impacted leading to concerns about the longer term sustainability of the football championship.
“The fact that the proposed format will do little to alleviate the increasing gap between higher and lower ranked counties. The reality that there will be no incentive for provincial winners over other teams who qualify for the quarter-final stage. Provincial winners would now have to play an additional three games in order to reach the semi-final.”
Although several counties back the “Super 8” plan, it remains to be seen if the GAA goes ahead with the vote on Saturday morning in the wake of the entire football-playing population opposing it.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner last week, CPA chairman Micheál Briody said: “We asked Páraic if they (GPA) don’t vote and the CPA are obviously not voting for it can we consciously put something through Congress that the majority of players in the country are against? Páraic said, ‘well, if the county boards are for it...’. If it does go through then it just shows the broken relationship between the county boards and the players.”