GAA chiefs are considering employing an independent agency to audit county boards in a bid to stamp out illegal payments to inter-county managers.
At last Friday’s management committee meeting, the county boards’ overwhelming support to advocate the implementation of the GAA’s rules on its amateur status was endorsed (option 2 in the discussion paper).
However, Croke Park officials warned counties will now have to back up the words with action and fully comply with their financial affairs being scrutinised forensically.
Among a list of proposals expected to be drawn up is an outside agency being charged with the responsibility of supervising county boards’ financial dealings with their management teams.
Under option 2, a national full-time compliance officer is to be appointed, working alongside a registration and audit committee made up of volunteers.
However, a GAA source suggested they may have to take it one step further: “If the GAA want this to stand up in court, then it will have to be vigorously monitored.”
In a press release yesterday, the GAA stated they will be seeking outside advice as they try to follow through on the option endorsed by 27 of the 32 counties. “Management committee approved the engagement of external expertise to assist in the development of procedures and actions to give effect to such implementation. On completion of this work, a report will be presented to the Management committee.”
It’s believed the process will be concluded ahead of next month’s management committee meeting before being voted on at Central Council.
Under option 2, alongside a national compliance officer, a registration and audit board is to be established with county boards providing them with full details of all fees and expense rates applicable to their inter-county management teams, support personnel and professional medical/welfare team.
As well as that, they would also have to be furnished with a statement of all benefits in kind or incentives.
Their powers would extend to spot checks on county boards to ensure they conform with the GAA’s amateur rules and guidelines. In his discussion paper, GAA director general Páraic Duffy acknowledged the success of the initiative depends heavily on the integrity and vigilance of all of officials.
However, he warns enforcement will be rigorous. “The fact this problem exists at all would suggest these qualities have not been sufficiently present in the Association,” said Duffy.
“It would, therefore, be critical that the implementation of this model be consistent and unrelenting, and that a climate be created in which it would be clear to all concerned that seeking to circumvent, ignore or subvert the procedures and checks of the registration model would not be tolerated... the penalties for breaching these rules (must) be serious and applied without fear or favour.”
Croke Park’s determination to address the matter referred to as “a cancer running through our organisation” is in keeping with efforts to conform with Revenue guidelines. However, it remains to be seen what impact their ongoing discussions with the taxmen will have on referees’ expenses.
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