Cooney asks refs to soften stance

Christy Cooney called on referees to take a less militant stance regarding their match day expenses andreminded them of the GAA’s voluntary ethos.

In the wake of Longford and Wexford referees threatening towithdraw their services over a payment reduction for matches, the GAApresident said: “We have a dialogue ongoing with the Revenue at the moment and we want to keep that dialogue open to come to a solution that is satisfactory for everybody.

“These things happen and sometimes people take stances that are not necessary. But we are in a position where we’re going to move this on, that’s our objective. It will be resolved.

“We must all remember that people are volunteers in this Association. They [referees] are not paid to officiate at matches. They are paid to cover any out of pocket expenses that you incur. Our players go out on the field to play and they are not paid, so we need to be conscious of that.”

Guidelines from the Revenue suggested that expense payments to referees are cut to €13.71 per match, with a mileage allowance of 50 cent per mile.

Asked if he thought the controversy was a direct result of the payments to managers issue, he admitted: “Probably, but that will be moved on as well. It [payments to managers] is a serious issue and we have a chance for our counties and our clubs to honour what they all believe regarding our voluntary and amateur status.

“We need to be positive about the direction we’re going and now we have feedback from our counties we will (discuss it) at our next management meeting on Friday week.”

But Cooney is determined to both issues before he leaves office next month: “Myself and Paraic [Duffy] are committed to that. The most important thing once the consultative process is over, is that the counties deliver.”

Meanwhile, Munster Council secretary Pat Fitzgerald has apologised to Clare and Waterford for the wording of comments made in his annual report this week, when he questioned where grant aid allocated to both counties actually ends up.

Because Clare and Waterford do not have major stadia, they receive special funding from the provincial body, known as grants in lieu of field rent, monies that Tipperary, Cork, Kerry and Limerick are not entitled to.

Fitzgerald caused a stir in his report when he wrote: “I am somehow sceptical that this funding was at all times spent on such [development] projects.”

The Limerick native has now accepted his words had the potential to cause offence. “I can maybe apologise for the way it’s worded but this is a grant that’s given over a long number of years and both Waterford and Clare would have received €105,000 each over the last five years, varying from €15-25,000 [per annum].

“The practice there [that the] money is just handed out, our accountants are not happy with that system.

“My report was never an attempt to give the impression that money was spent in any way wrongly.”


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