GAA Football

GPA seeks life-play balance for players in new deal with GAA

Kilkenny hurler Richie Hogan was part of the GPA's negotiation team for their new €6.2m-a-year deal with the GAA

THE GPA’s new €6.2m-a-year deal with the GAA will see a new group formed to ensure “amateur players can maintain a balance between their personal and professional lives and their club and county careers”.

The new group will examine the demands made on players and formulate proposals to be presented to Central Council by June 2017. Of the money invested by the GAA in the new deal, €2.7m will go directly to current county players in the form of expenses. It will cover mileage (up to €1.5m in total) and, in a new venture, nutritional expenses will be covered up to €1.2m.

Aside from that, €200,000 per year will be set aside to help retired footballers and hurlers with the cost of surgery needed to address issues linked to their playing days. A minimum of €3.3m will be further invested in player development and welfare services, including educational support, counselling programmes, injury schemes and media training.

Of that figure, at least €2.5m will be handed over by the GAA from their commercial revenue income. The figure given to the GPA will increase to represent 15 per cent of the GAA’s overall income from commercial ventures should it surpass €16.7m. That represents an increase from €2m from an agreement made in 2015 between the GAA and GPA.

Having failed in their bid to change the structure of the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship at this year’s annual congress, the new deal allows the GPA to submit one motion to Congress each year, in line with other units of the association.

GPA chief executive Dessie Farrell hailed the deal as a “historic milestone for players, the GPA and the GAA”: “This agreement emphasises the crucial role played by county players in our games and, indeed, acknowledges their dedication and commitment in performing at the highest level,” he said.

“It ensures the financial impact on players is reduced, while placing the support structures within the GPA for players on a very firm footing. This three-year agreement now establishes a long-term commitment to link player welfare and development with the GAA’s commercial success, which is highly significant.”

Alongside Kildare legend Dermot Earley, the GPA’s negotiating team included current county players Séamus Hickey (Limerick hurler), Richie Hogan (Kilkenny hurler) and Paul Flynn (Dublin footballer), as well as Aidan Gordon and Aaron Shearer.

Fergal McCormack, Feargal McGill, Liam Keane and John Horan were on the other side of the table thrashing out the deal.

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