GAA Football

Proposals kill prospect of change until 2021 says CPA chairman Michéal Briody

Michéal Briody (right), chairman of the Club Players' Association. Photo by Piaras Ó Maidheach/Sportsfile.

THE chairman of the Club Players’ Association says that the proposed introduction of All-Ireland Football Championship reform on a three-year trial period would block any chance to create a solution for clubs until at least 2021.

Michéal Briody, in an in-depth interview with The Irish News, says he feels that the amendment that was announced to Páraic Duffy’s proposals will have a further detrimental affect on hopes for long-term change.

The CPA last month voiced its opposition to the proposals in a statement released the same morning as the GAA Director-General released his annual report.

Briody reiterated their call for Central Council to withdraw the motion before it reaches the floor of Congress so that “all the stakeholders” can engage in discussions about an alternative solution.

Duffy, meanwhile, has called on delegates to vote for his proposal on the basis that it will be implemented as a three-year trial from 2018 until 2020.

The controversial proposal, which includes a ‘super eight’ round robin system that would replace the current All-Ireland quarter-finals, has been hailed by Croke Park officials as a solution to the clubs’ fixture issues.

“That is a big concern for us, that this change has come in at the 11th hour. We wouldn’t see that as a positive – we’d see that as a significant negative.

“That would knock out any proposals that we or anyone else can bring in the next three years. It’s more or less saying ‘this is it for the next three years, give it a chance’, but this does nothing for clubs. Absolutely nothing.”

Briody is calling for Central Council to withdraw the proposals until after Congress and wants the various stakeholders, including the GPA and provincial councils, to have discussions about a genuine solution for clubs.

And he says that if they decide that Duffy’s proposals are the way forward then there is the opportunity to call a special Congress and have them implemented before next year.

“There is a mechanism there to call a special Congress, we can do it at the back end of the year, and in the intervening period, we want the CPA, the GPA, provincial councils, county boards and Croke Park to sit down and look at the whole adult fixture calendar for inter-county, colleges and clubs.”

Duffy’s proposal will be broken into three parts as it hits the floor of Congress. One relates to the abandonment of replays barring for provincial and All-Ireland finals, while the second part states that the All-Ireland football final should be played on or before the last Sunday in August.

However, it is the introduction of the ‘round-robin’ quarter-finals that Briody feels is the primary issue.

“The replays, yeah, that’s a positive. Bringing forward the All-Ireland, a positive, that helps the clubs. But the other one doesn’t, at all.

“When Páraic Duffy presented his annual report, he was asked about the black card and he said we had to give it a chance, see what it’s like at the end of the trial.

“That’s their mechanism for saying they’re not going to answer any questions until the trial is over. If that’s going to be the case next year when we’re talking about fixtures, what they’re doing is kicking the problem down the line for the next administrators in the GAA to pick up.

“When exactly is the GAA planning to address the clubs issue? They’re talking about saying they will look at it but when will they actually take action?

“They’ve got to save the clubs. Engage all the stakeholders – they’ve never done that. This is their opportunity to do it now. Everything should be on the table.”

Meath native Briody, who played for his club St Brigid’s for 25 years, chairs the CPA executive that includes ex-Cork footballer Derek Kavanagh and former Wexford hurler and manager Liam Griffin.

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