Davy Fitzgerald believes the GAA will have to introduce a cap on the amount spent by county boards on their teams to ensure a level playing field.
Last year, Clare’s total expenditure for their county sides at all grades came to €657,337, a drop of €143,236 from the previous year.
It paled in comparison to the amounts paid out by most of their Munster rivals: Cork (€1.44 million), Tipperary (€1.045m) and Limerick (€1.04m). Kerry almost hit the €1m mark while Waterford accrued €664,485.
As part of an interview in tomorrow’s Irish Examiner, Fitzgerald argues the level of spending has to be reined in by Croke Park.
“Has the county game evolved and become more expensive with training? It probably has. It is tough. You look at the budgets of certain top teams; I saw some recently. I think Clare are down around 12th or 13th in what they spend on their teams. There’s a big gap and that’s the only worry I have and I’d love to see that teams are nearly on the same cap because it’s very hard and you might have to go out and raise x amount of money yourself. Fair enough and yet we generate serious money within the GAA.
“I love our organisation. I think the man at the top of our organisation, (director general) Páraic Duffy, is very good. But there are things that need to be looked at. I would have views on a lot of things but that’s a worry and it needs to be looked at. We just can’t have the strong getting stronger and forgetting the rest.
“There should be as much equality as possible.”
It’s also with fairness in mind that Fitzgerald would prefer to see the league restructured so that more teams are included in the top flight.
He’s been banging that drum for some time now.
“I wasn’t talking about a selfish point of view. I could be selfish and say ‘the most important thing is Clare and we do what’s best for Clare’. Brian Cody, I’m sure, would be the same. He’s a hurling man and I’m sure he would be thinking about other teams. Imagine having an eight or 10-team Division 1 and having as many as nine good games?
“To me, it feels at the moment like there is an elite six and we’re pushing away the next six. I could be wrong and it’s only my view but I would like to see other teams involved with the top teams. You might get beatings but you will improve and you will get there the more you play the big teams.”
The Sixmilebridge man also believes the GAA don’t yet fully appreciate the promotional value of hurling. “I think we’ve one of the best games in the world and I’ve often said it to the high-up brass in Croke Park. I feel it could even be bigger than it is.
“Hurling could be promoted better than it is. I think the county game could definitely be promoted more.
“I don’t know, in the last year or so I feel they could be pushing it more. Maybe they’re afraid it’s getting too big and too expensive at county level.
“We’ve a serious, serious, serious game. If you ask any Americans who have come in and seen it, they love it.
“I just think the potential to watch it is incredible. I like sport. I’ll sit down and watch American football; I’ll watch Australian Rules. I’m a sports person, I love good games and I’m thinking — wouldn’t people outside our country just love our game? It’s something that’s been in my head for a long time.
“I think it could be bigger than what it is.”
See full interview in tomorrow’s Weekend Sport and on irishexaminer.com
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