GAA Football

GAA letting down their membership if they allow fixture carnage to continue says Club Players' Association Chairman Micheal Briody

Michéal Briody, CPA Chairman, speaking during the Club Players Association Press Conference at the Carlton Hotel in Blanchardstown, Dublin. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Andy Watters

THE GAA will be “letting down their membership” if they allow the status quo regarding fixtures to continue, Club Players’ Association (CPA) Chairman Micheal Briody has warned.

After the CPA withdrew support for the final report of the GAA’s Calendar Review Task Force, Briody claimed that the GAA hierarchy has drifted “out of touch” with its rank and file membership and that a change of direction is now urgently required.

The CPA actively engaged in the Task Force – set up by GAA President John Horan and director general Tom Ryan to review the fixture calendar – throughout 2019 but quit on Monday in frustration because they felt that their recommendations and suggestions for change were not being taken on board.

After the breakdown in dialogue, the question now is: How can the CPA ensure that the GAA do take their concerns on board? There have been suggestions that a player strike could be their next move but Briody insists it is “not the way to go”.

“We never supported a strike three years ago when we were formed and we still don’t,” the Meath native told The Irish News.

“But we will look at various other options of getting our message across in protest and what they are we’ll decide as an executive.

“We still feel that a largescale strike is not the way to go, really what we want to do is keep level heads and see if people within Croke Park will look at the report and see that it is a pile of you-know-what.

“There is a massive appetite for change within the fixture structure at the moment. The expectation is that what it coming from the Task Force is going to be generational change but we don’t want to put our name to it because the document that we have seen in its nearly final state is not as good as it can be.

“The first 30 pages of it are practically defending the status quo so that’s not the tone of a report that is going to recommend significant change.

“It is going before Central Council on Saturday and there will be three options. One will be the retention of the status quo with the Super 8s and the new tier two. If that option is put before the membership as a meaningful option then the leadership of the GAA are really letting down their membership.”

The CPA informed Task Force chairman Eddie Sullivan of their decision to withdraw “with immediate effect” on Monday night. Briody said the club representatives could not support the Task Force’s final report which they have described as “a compromised document”.

“We’ve pulled out of the Task Force but we tried up until last Wednesday night to push better plans through the process,” he said.

“When the stakeholders – basically Croke Park – spoke it made the report but when it was something that we said it was debated but it never appeared.

“We were debating the report but we weren’t writing the report. When you’re writing it you have more authority.

“There are some very good people on the committee but we didn’t ask the GPA, or the colleges, or the schools whether they were happy with the report. We represent the CPA and we liaised with our own executive after every meeting and discussed it.

“We were prepared to give on some things if we could make ground in other areas but, by and large, we were giving everything and getting nothing.”

Briody still hasn’t given up all hope that something can be salvaged from the process that also included representatives from the Gaelic Players’ Association and schools and colleges GAA. However, he is not particularly optimistic.

“They (Croke Park) don’t want to take what anyone thinks on board,” he said.

“It’s not just the CPA, it’s the general membership and that is just the fact that they’re out of touch.

“What is the next step? We only decided this on Friday, we are regretful that it did have to happen – but it did have to happen – and we are where we are.

“Our executive will meet in the next week or so and take stock then. The final version of the review has not been rubberstamped yet so maybe, maybe, they’ll look at this (the CPA withdrawal) and say: ‘We might make a few changes to the plans and make them more amenable to the club players before they go to final publication.

“Maybe there is a better chance that they’ll do that when we outside the room as opposed to inside the room? If they can show us a good report and put a good report to the membership that is better than the existing status quo and better than the other plans I’d be happy enough with that.

“But I don’t think that will happen.”

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