GAA Football

GPA says return to action in 2020 is unlikely

Paul Flynn has expressed the hopes and concerns of the GPA members

THE Gaelic Players Association wants “further clarity” around the GAA’s contingency plans for the inter-county and club season but also concedes there may well be no return to action this year due to the Covid19 pandemic.

In an update to their members, GPA chief Paul Flynn stressed their health and safety remained “non-negotiable” and went on to praise the relaxed approach of inter-county managers towards training programmes for their players.

“We accept that the GAA can’t deliver certainty around fixtures at this time,” said Flynn.

“It is a fluid and ever-changing situation. However, what we would like to see is some further clarity around the GAA’s contingency plans for the inter-county and club season.

“The close contact nature of the playing and training environment which surrounds our games presents a heightened risk to the welfare of players, and a considerable challenge to return to action while adhering to social distancing and public health guidelines.”

The GPA also urged the GAA to “engage external expert medical advice” to work on an “evidence-informed decision on a safe return to play.”

The GPA’s medical advisor Dr Jim O Donavan and Flynn have been taking advice from the “Global Sports leaders through the World Players Association” with Dr Annie Sparrow, Special Advisor to the Director-General of the WHO to Zach Binney, a leading epidemiologist at Emory University, USA involved in the conference calls.

America’s NFL is discussing “mass quarantine options with extensive testing protocols” but Flynn said this approach would be “unrealistic” for GAA players.

The former Dublin footballer added: “There is a growing sense of impatience amongst players, which is understandable. Players want clarity around plans for the 2020 season. “However, what is also clear is that you are in 100 per cent agreement that public health advice and the safety of you, the players and your families is the number one priority.”

Meanwhile, the GAA changed its terms and conditions last month without informing ticket-holders. A clause was inserted on March 15 that no refunds would be provided in the event of the GAA season being postponed due to “circumstances outside of the control of the GAA (Natural Disaster, Pandemic, etc.)”.

The GAA, however, stressed that it was within its rights to adjust its terms and conditions without having to make season ticket-holders aware. 

Speaking to The Irish Examiner, GAA communications chief Alan Milton said: "Amendments are catered for in the terms and conditions and the ticketing department have liaised with season ticket holders who have made contact with various queries since the games have stopped.”

The date of the amendment - between December and March - was picked up by Twitter account @gaapicks. 

The new clause reads: “GAA may make changes and update these terms and conditions at any time without further notice to you.

“It is your sole responsibility to check the terms and conditions periodically, because your continued use of the Season Ticket will mean you accept those changes and updates.”

The GAA has not yet written off the inter-county season but with gatherings of more than 5,000 people banned by the Irish government until September the chances of a Championship in 2020 look bleak.

 

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