GPA CEO Paul Flynn believes a new deal with the GAA can be negotiated before 2021.
Talks on a new funding model between the parties failed to come up with an agreement late last year with GAA president John Horan admitting it was down to a money 'roadblock' at the time. The pandemic and ripple effects arising from it have since changed the overall context in which any further discussions take place.
That said, Flynn expects progress in the coming months.
“If I was John Horan I would like to do a deal with the players before my term was complete but that's up to himself,” said the former Dublin footballer. “I do feel we will make progress on that and our aim is still to complete that before the end of this year.”
The last agreement guaranteed the players' body 15% of the GAA's commercial income, or a baseline of €2,500,000 if that was higher. That agreement, due to expire in 2019, has been carried forward for the current calendar year.
The figure received from Croke Park coffers last year was €2,970,572.
What form any new accord will take will be particularly interesting given the four-month shutdown and ongoing restrictions on spectators and the shaving of so many money-generating games from both championships, all of which will eat enormously into expected revenue streams.
Flynn understands the ramifications of the economic situation as is and as it is likely to proceed in the short-term. The GPA's revenue will, like so many others in sport and beyond, decrease but he stressed the fact that the bodies will still be working together long after Covid-19 retreats in significance.
“It’s going to be a long-term deal, a long-term relationship. It’s a partnership model and this, what we’re experiencing right now, no different to any organisation or any sports organisation, is hopefully going to be a short-term impact.
“The GAA is around for many years, it’s going to be around for many years more and equally, the players. Yes, we will look at it from a short-term perspective with the GAA but with regards to a negotiated agreement, we’ll be looking at it from a long-term perspective also.”
GAA funding accounted for 39% of the GPA's income in 2019. Government grants worth €3m to inter-county players make up another 40% and Flynn pointed out in the GPA's annual report, released yesterday, that this is reviewed every year and impacted by the wider economic picture.
The GAA may not be the only party seeking to drive through a harder bargain.
Whatever happens, tougher times lie ahead and the impact is likely to be felt by a body which funnelled 81% of its income back into player development and welfare programmes last year and one which has recorded increased engagement for those offerings among its 2,300 or so members.
In all, almost 1,450 members were supported in some manner in 2019. It is a figure which represented a 31% jump on the previous 12 months, something Flynn described as phenomena, and it was a level of engagement achieved via 2,000-plus courses.
The body as a whole is in a healthy position as it braces for these chillier climes.
The GPA described 2019 as a “positive financial year” in its annual report, despite recording a reduced surplus of just over €80,000, compared to a figure of over €300,000 for 2018. They have no bank borrowings while operational costs have been reduced in recent times.