Ref tax row takes twist

The referees’ expenses controversy has taken a dramatic twist with Limerick match officials asked to supply their Personal Public Service (PPS) numbers to the county board.

The request for their tax information was made by county treasurer Owen Hayes at a recent in-service training evening to ensure the referees retain their 2011 rates including €50 per championship game.

The county board plans to pay the taxes for them and bill the clubs for their services,providing the necessary details are furnished.

Although match expenses were mentioned last night, PPS numbers weren’t discussed at a meeting of referees in the Gaelic Grounds as officials await the outcome of the ongoing talks between Croke Park and Revenue.

However, several referees in the county are known to be disgruntled at the prospect of having to hand over their PPS numbers considering they are amateurs.

“I’ve no comment to make,” said Hayes last night. “I only discuss these matters with the referees.”

The mention of PPS numbers has put the Gaelic Match Officials Association (GMAO) on high alert and there are already plans in train to mobilise members over the coming weeks.

At least two other county boards have privately mentioned the need to attain referees’ PPS numbers to maintain existing match rates.

Led by chairman Ray Matthews and secretary Alan Nash, the unofficial referees’ body has called on the GAA to give referees a definitive answer in writing on potential tax liabilities as soon as possible.

On Tuesday, GAA president Christy Cooney revealed there would be discussions with tax officials held later in the week. However, no referee representative is involved in the talks.

“I’m not actually in talks with them because it doesn’t actually apply to me as National Referees chairman,” said Mick Curley on RTÉ Radio One recently.

“The financial director [Tom Ryan] in Croke Park is in talks with them.”

Meanwhile, Cork fully expect their footballers’ Allianz Division 1 game against Laois to go ahead in Portlaoise tomorrow evening.

Although Monaghan’s home advantage for Sunday’s Division 2 fixture with Louth was restored by the Disputes Resolution Authority (DRA) yesterday, Cork didn’t pursue their case any further than the Central Hearings Committee (CHC).

Both counties had initially been proposed €5,000 fines by the Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) for their players’ involvement in melees in separate league games last month. However, they sought meetings with the CHC, which ruled they should instead forfeit home advantage in their next league game.

Monaghan contested the decision to the Central Appeals Committee (CAC), which backed the CHC, before bringing it in front of the DRA. At 2am yesterday morning the independent committee quashed the CHC penalty handed down to Monaghan on the basis due process had been followed.

The Cork County Board refused to comment on Monaghan’s case as the process is still ongoing, having had the case referred back to the CHC for reconsideration of the penalty imposed. However, county officials have no reason to believe the game will be moved back to Cork from Portlaoise.

Monaghan manager Eamonn McEneaney praised his board for contesting the penalty handed down to his team unlike Cork, who he felt didn’t do enough for their footballers.

“It’s been referred back to the CHC and that’s nearly all we were looking for in the first place,” he said.

“We felt the punishment was unbalanced, plus giving somebody advantage who wasn’t involved in the incident. Full credit has to go to the Monaghan County Board for showing the courage of their convictions when others shied away from it.

“We argued all along that the CHC didn’t have the power to change the venue, that only the CCCC had the power to change venue. For the team and people of Monaghan, it’s a happy situation. What happens in the future? We’ll look at it when it comes along. We know there’s a punishment coming but we’re glad that one that didn’t fit has been quashed. All we’re doing now is concentrating on football because this has been on everyone’s mind the last few weeks.”

The CHC meets tonight to discuss Kildare selector Niall Carew’s disciplinary case and again on Monday when Crossmaglen joint-manager Gareth O’Neill’s situation from their match against Dr Crokes is discussed. The CHC could decide to reapply the same punishment or refer the case back to the CCCC who initially proposed Monaghan be fined €5,000.

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