CPA rules out strike but will lobby sponsors to force GAA's hand
THE Club Players’ Association says it will lobby GAA sponsors in a bid to effect change, but that it “will not support a strike”.
The CPA yesterday revealed the results of its most recent member survey, in which 77 per cent of the 1,617 respondents said they would “support a militant strategy” if their executive believes all diplomatic options have been exhausted.
The body, which is not formally recognised by the GAA, last week sent letters to all of the GAA’s major sponsors asking them to “bring their influence to the corridors of power in Croke Park”.
Calling on the businesses to “support what is right for everyone not just the few”, CPA chairman Micheál Briody says that it is their “preferred militant option” to try and exert pressure on the GAA’s primary financial backers.
“We’re going to talk to the sponsors and go after the money,” he told The Irish News.
“The vast majority of the CPA executive are experienced in business and have contacts in that end of the game. We’ve contacted sponsors and said to them that they’re sponsoring an organisation that doesn’t have good governance over fixtures.
“Yes, it has a great showpiece for the 2 per cent and there is pleasure derived from that by the many, but ultimately the GAA is responsible for a schedule of games for all its members.
“They’re bound to deliver on that, and we’re asking each of their sponsors to bring that to the corridors of power in Croke Park, and have those discussions.
“We have to see what comes back.”
The time-frame for action will depend on how quickly the GAA moves to bring the final recommendations of the Fixtures Calendar Review Task Force to a Special Congress.
It’s understood that, having initially been planned for April, that may not happen until closer to the back end of the year.
The CPA had been part of the task force but withdrew at the 11th hour, describing it as “a Trojan horse” designed to retain the current status quo.
The current fixtures calendar, with a few minor tweaks, is set to be put forward as one of the options for counties to vote on.
Yet January has proven to be a chaotic month for GAA fixtures, with the All-Ireland club series’, Sigerson Cup and U20 games joining the pre-season inter-county competitions in a busy few weeks.
“We would have found this month is worse than the three previous corresponding [Januarys] we’ve been in existence,” said Briody.
“There have been some positive changes put through by Croke Park in the last while and they’ll put those out on a trolley – the U17s, the finish on the day, etc.
“But they’ve been obliterated by the extra games put on to inter-county, both in hurling’s round robin and the Super 8s [in football]. That has taken more away than the other positive changes have added.
“It’s definitely worse now than it was three years ago. The league stage in the hurling championship and the Super 8s have crushed summer football and hurling for clubs. That’s the biggest issue.
“County players just don’t get enough time with their clubs.”
Meanwhile, just nine per cent of respondents to the CPA’s survey said that the GAA’s recent high-profile “Where We All Belong” marketing campaign “accurately reflects the connection between club players and the wider association”.