Seán Fogarty on the GPA: ‘We have created a monster and now we have to feed him’

The “lavishness” of the GPA’s new funding agreement has been queried by a former leading GAA official while another believes the official players body is “a monster” that has to be fed.

The GPA could make as much as €7.5 million per annum starting from next year, more than the €6.2m than they are guaranteed to receive from the GAA.

Danny Lynch, who was GAA PRO between 1988 and 2007, has questioned why Croke Park would agree to hand over 15% of all its commercial revenue to the GPA, which could come to as much as €3.5m from next year because of the new round of media rights. The GPA will receive at the very minimum €2.5m from the sector, which also incorporates francishing and licensing.

“I understand that it is important there is dialogue and interaction between the GAA and the players organisation,” Lynch acknowledged.

“It is accepted that the players organisation is bona fide and is there to stay.

“But I’m rather surprised at the percentage and the lavishness and the generosity of the financial commitment from the GAA to the GPA.

“In terms of players’ well-being, it would seem to me to be by and large well taken care of by county boards in the first instance anyway. I think the GAA would want to be careful not to be held responsible for fixing all the ills of the world.”

Lynch is concerned the percentage of commercial revenue is one of a number of similarities the GAA-GPA agreement has with deals made between professional sports organisations and the professional player unions. “From my perspective, there’s no doubt that there are elements about the arrangement that are associated with purely professional sports.”

The Kerry native has no issue with the GPA’s representation at Congress being doubled from one to two delegates. Neither does he have any quarrel with them being guaranteed one motion on the Clár of Congress every year.

However, he said: “I would have no problem with that provided the GPA, like any county or any delegation would accept the democratic decision of Congress without throwing the baby’s rattle out of the pram.”

Former Munster chairman Seán Fogarty has condemned the magnitude of the deal, stressing it widens the gap between the elite in Gaelic games and those playing at grassroots level.

“In one sentence, we have created a monster and now we have to feed him,” said the ex-GAA presidential candidate.

“I would have serious reservations about just how much is being made available to the inter-county player when it’s the club player who is struggling most.”

Tipperary man Fogarty has hit out at the “imbalance” that the agreement illustrates. “Clubs are on their knees, struggling to pay €1,000 to affiliate junior B teams that are vaguely interested in playing football and hurling.

“I have the height of respect for inter-county players but there is an imbalance between how club and county players are treated.

“I was on the bus to Cavan to watch the Tipperary footballers last Saturday with ordinary guys and they’re all struggling.

“We have become reduced to the roles of ticket sellers to keep clubs afloat.

“We’re begging the same people time after time for the sake of the club.

“If we can give over €6m a year to guys who are already well treated and don’t have to buy a bit of gear and get overnight stays, then surely we can do more to recognise sacrifices made by club players.”

Fogarty’s own club Moyne-Templetuohy have faced a relegation play-off since the end of May but may not play it until October depending on how Tipperary’s inter-county teams fare this season.

“All the time, we’re paying physios and guys are picking up injuries and we can’t tell them when they can go on holidays because the game could be on next week. Nobody at the top level seems to mind these things happening. The ordinary club player is taken for granted.”

Fogarty would like to see more availability of inter-county players to their clubs. “I have not seen one improvement in that area. I know it’s a difficult one but we can’t afford to keep ignoring it.”


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