Jim McGuinness has insisted that fully fledged professionalism in the GAA would be unsustainable.
The ongoing increases in the amount of time and effort put in by counties such as Donegal in recent years has seen the amateur status of hurling and football’s finest come up for debate time and again but, for McGuinness, the numbers simply do not add up.
“If there were a sustainable model for remunerating the players whilst protecting the values of the association you’d have to look at it,” he said in an interview with Hot Press magazine.
“Personally I think it’s a case of chimney pots — we don’t have enough of them in Ireland to support two more professional games. Unlike the League of Ireland, we can’t make money by selling players to English clubs.
“There are no lucrative European competitions to qualify for, no hurling or football World Cup to drip-feed money down to the national association. Rugby in Ireland’s worked well as a professional sport because of the international dimension that the GAA doesn’t have.
“Yes, there are people in the UK and America who’ll watch Donegal v Tyrone, but it’s a fraction of the audience you’d get for Leinster v Harlequins or Munster v Clermont. If we were a country of 10 or 15 million perhaps it’d work, but I don’t think we’d be able to sustain professional football and hurling here with an island-wide population of half that.”
McGuinness, who will have to make do without the injured Mark McHugh when Donegal face Laois in a round four All-Ireland qualifier this Saturday, also expounds on his coaching philosophies, changing the culture in the Donegal dressing room, his role with Celtic and the part he will play as Paul McGinley seeks to keep the Ryder Cup in European hands next year.
* The full, in-depth piece can be seen in the new ‘Hot Press’ magazine in stores now.
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