JOE BROLLY has accused GAA chiefs of being motivated by money in agreeing a deal with the GPA.
The outspoken former Derry star is a prominent member of the ‘Of One Belief’ group established to campaign against the provision of grants to inter-county players and remains suspicious of the GPA’s motives.
By agreeing to grant official recognition to the players’ body, the GAA’s top brass have confirmed the gap that has materialised between them and the grassroots, according to Brolly.
“The recent agreement is not surprising” he wrote in yesterday’s Gaelic Life. “All it really does is illustrate the gulf between the GAA community and the Croke Park hierarchy.
“Croke Park is now a place of business, with the imperatives of any merchant bank.
“Their language is the language of commerce, gobbledegook about revenue streams and cost neutrality.
“Christy Cooney and Páraic Duffy bitterly criticised the Gaels in ‘Of One Belief’, describing us as ‘disingenuous’. Yet all has been sweetness and light between them and the small group that powers the GPA.
“The reason for this – as (The Godfather II character) Hyman Roth put it – is strictly business. GPA agitation can compromise the ‘GAA’s revenue stream’. We cannot.
“There is of course a very good basis for the deal, namely, that it will neuter the GPA and guarantee the continued free flow of money into the GAA coffers.
“The agreement is eminently pragmatic and sensible. It makes perfect business sense. But it is entirely unprincipled. Which is all that ‘Of One Belief’ is pointing out.”
Meanwhile, in the same publication, another long-time opponent of the GPA, Jarlath Burns welcomed the agreement. The former chairman of the Players’ Advisory Group – established by the GAA in response to the GPA’s emergence considers the GAA’s approach as pragmatic. Financial factors were obviously taken into account he said, but the ex-Armagh captain has no problem with that.
Indeed, he reckons it was necessary once the GPA sourced its own sponsorship. He labelled that development as the group’s “first masterstroke”, as it affected the GAA’s ability to promote a united front to potential sponsors.
“The figure it took to the end the strife is big; over a million euro” says Burns. “It’s a serious ball of money but we shouldn’t be afraid. They were looking for five million and were going to walk out if they didn’t get it, so they haven’t got all they want.
“And it won’t simply flow out of Croke Park and into their bank account. In Croke Park, once the money is pledged… every single piece of expenditure had to be justified, sometimes twice. Then three quotations had to be received, rigorous assessment of every single deal was carried out and every event was reviewed forensically.
“So whatever player welfare initiatives are run, they will be watched, scrutinised and reviewed robustly.”
The primary victory for the GAA was getting the GPA to confirm its commitment to the association’s amateur status though.
“I can understand the anxiety of those who say that (the GPA’s) only concession was the amateur status, which was there anyway” states Burns.
“But believe me, it has suffered some shaky moments during the past decade and might not have survived until our 150th birthday.
“In the GPA Team of the Year, each recipient received two grand and player of the year got a car. This put our own All Stars firmly in the ha’penny place. To clear the stage of this debris leaves the way open again for the GAA to be sole negotiators for sponsorship and the million euro will be well eclipsed by the increased revenue gained by this development.”
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