AUSSIE RULES player agent Ricky Nixon has said that he is “all ears” to the possibility of GAA clubs and counties claiming financial compensation for the loss of talented youngsters to the oval code.
Nixon has already made known his controversial plans to establish an island-wide recruitment network here in Ireland which will run the rule over Gaelic football’s most promising players.
Six AFL clubs have already shown an interest in his scheme and he was due to fly into Ireland yesterday to further the project. Before his flight, he said he had organised a meeting with GAA president Nickey Brennan and Director General Pauric Duffy.
Croke Park claimed to have no knowledge of any such meeting when contacted yesterday but Nixon has said that he wants to be upfront with the Association who will, no doubt, be interested to hear about his views on possible compensation with nine Irishmen currently employed by AFL outfits.
“We intend to run a camp over there. I’m not sure whether that will be in August, September or October, it just depends on availability of the players. If they didn’t want to meet then I would have kept going anyway.
“It wouldn’t have stopped us doing what we’re doing but I think it’s far better to at least talk about it. If I don’t do it, it’s going to happen anyway,” said Nixon who is the most high-profile sports agent in Australia.
“And it’s going to happen in a way that’s far more damaging than the way I’m going to do it. The last thing a county side over there needs is their best talent there one day and gone the next.”
“If they say to me: ‘Ricky, we don’t like what you’re doing but we know it’s going to happen anyway so we’d rather work with you, so we suggest this, this and this or transfer fees’ then I’m all ears. I’m happy to work with them.’’
Tadhg Kennelly has already warned Irish players about Nixon’s plans for a recruitment camp here in the autumn, terming it a ‘meat market’, while Brian Stynes has said the idea could do serious ‘damage’ to the games here.
However, Nixon has rejected Stynes’ remarks, claiming his innovation will not result in a cascade of Irish talent foregoing Gaelic games for the possibility of a professional contract in the AFL.
“Players have been coming out of Ireland since 1980. There’s actually not any more players coming every year and there won’t be more players coming out each year,” he said.
“All we’re doing is trying to make this is more professional and organised.”
He has also offered his expertise to the GAA in a number of areas should they be willing to sit down and meet, although his apparent role in professionalising Aussie Rules will hardly endear him any further to Croke Park.
“I’m quite happy to offer assistance to the GAA in respect to making the playing conditions and what the players are able to do over the next 10 years more professional.
“In the early ‘90s, on the back of a lot of stuff I did, the AFL was able to become truly national and was able to have fully professional players and was able to have a players’ association that’s funded to the tune of $10 million (€6m) now so I can give that expertise to the GAA if they want it. It’s up to them if they want to use it.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved