Uncovering the debate on the GAA and payments to managers
The difficult issue of payments to top GAA managers has been brought to the attention of the national media once again by the publication of a discussion document by GAA director general Paraic Duffy last week. After all, in more recent times we have been hearing whispers that top county managers are being paid up to six-figure sums per year. There are three possible options proposed by Duffy’s report.
Those are, continue with the current policy, implement the Association’s existing rules fully or introduce a new system to regulate payments to senior inter-county managers.
Some GAA players weren’t shy in airing their views and unsurprisingly Colm ‘controversial’ Parkinson of Laois said on Twitter: “Managers wana get paid but no mention of players paid…being a player is a bigger commitment, gym on nights off, no social life, injuries. Same old GAA attitude, look after everyone except the players, although too many players are yes man and stand for it.”
Parkinson’s comments may have resulted in some eye-rolling especially from a player who is renowned for not holding back but he does raise some valid points. Especially since reporting of teams like Dublin and their 6am training start have reached fever pitch in the last twelve months.
This discussion document will inevitably push the issue of players and pay to the forefront of GAA debate and rightly so. The lines are becoming even more blurred in terms of the GAA as an amateur organisation which contrasts with the more recent obvious professional practices and expectations. Critics have been echoing the opinion that the voluntary ethos of the organisation is slowly being eroded.
Managers’ pay also brings in added issues for the GAA as pointed out by Mark Conway, founder Of One Belief, “If we start paying them what do you do then? If a manager doesn’t work well and is removed, they’ll have to be paid off. There could be constructive dismissal and there’ll be employment laws. It’s a nightmare scenario.”
On the other side of the debate Cian Ward of Meath tweeted: “In fairness I think every player would take hand and all if offered anything! I don’t mind managers being paid if they’re good!’ It does seem like a natural progression since physios, nutritionists, doctors etc. are paid for their services. The players’ body has also come out in support of official payments.
The Gaelic Players Association (GPA) believes that getting payments to managers out in the open and formalised is for the best. Sean Potts, Head of Communications at GPA, is quoted in Wednesday’s Irish Examiner: “This option is the only way to go. We are conscious of the traditions in the GAA. But it must be grasped that what’s going on at the moment is an embarrassment to the association publicly. There is no guarantee of course that by bringing in proper regulation, that there won’t be abuses of that.”
Interestingly and more importantly, Potts added: “We also asked if managers were paid, would players be inclined to then look for payment and over 75 per cent said they wouldn’t. It’s not an issue for players and they don’t see it as an influencing factor.” Although Aindreas Doyle, Wexford GAA star tweeted: “The GAA are on another planet if they think players are going to give the current commitment forever.”
It has been said that the Catholic Church, Fianna Fáil and the GAA were the pillars of Irish society. Judging by this document the GAA are keen to remain as one of the three pillars of Irish society and not to fall victim to, as quoted in the document, ‘cynicism’ and ‘dishonesty.’