GAA invites clubs to complain about county training breaches
THE GAA has moved further to clamp down on counties conducting collective training sessions by inviting clubs to submit complaints.
After a conference call addressing “anything that would undermine our clubs having full access to their players in the window we have identified for club activity this summer” Croke Park has emailed clubs saying that “County Chairpersons have agreed to assist us in ensuring that these arrangements are observed in an effort to preserve the integrity of the club window.”
No county training is supposed to take place before Monday September 14, but there have been social media reports of counties doing so, with claims of ‘county’ players being restricted to a certain number of league games with their clubs.
The Association’s email states: "If a club has a grievance in relation to the availability of their County players, or feel a County team in their County are holding collective training sessions before September 14th, they are encouraged to submit a formal complaint to Croke Park."
It is understood that the relevant county chairperson would then have 48 hours in which to respond, with the potential for fines or other penalties, including disqualification from competition, if the GAA deems that insufficient action is taken against any rule-breakers.
The GAA has pointed to Rule 7.2 (e), relating to 'Misconduct Considered to have Discredited the Association', punishment for which can include a minimum eight-week suspension for an individual member, while debarment and expulsion from the Association can also be implemented. Teams could face future deduction of points in league competitions or even disqualification.
RTE Sport reported that the email also confirmed there would be no GAA Player Injury Scheme cover or expenses in place for inter-county training until September 14.
However, given that any club making a complaint will be identified, it remains to be seen how many, if any, will go down that route.
Croke Park has said that "Any such correspondence must come from the official Secretary email address of the club. The county in question will be forwarded the correspondence and asked to respond to the issues raised within 48 hours of receipt."
The email said: "In light of some of the challenges posed by a very different fixture schedule this year, a discussion involving the GAA President, Director General and our county chairpersons took place last Friday.
"The sole purpose of this call was to address anything that would undermine our clubs having full access to their players in the window we have identified for club activity this summer.
"Our County Chairpersons have agreed to assist us in ensuring that these arrangements are observed in an effort to preserve the integrity of the club window and ensure a common starting point and a level playing field for county teams.
“Individually and collectively, it was agreed that every county will commit to facilitating full availability of club players for the period and, specifically, that inter-county training will not take place before September 14th."
The latest move is an escalation from the GAA’s position on June 26 when it announced its proposed revised fixtures calendar.
On that day GAA President John Horan said of counties breaching the training pan: “We'd like people to call them out but we're not actually intending to impose any penalties.”
GAA Director-General Tom Ryan acknowledged then that “the reason we're at the stage we're at is because the country as a whole and the Association has showed a great degree of restraint and personal responsibility. And that's the thing we'd like to rely on first and foremost before we get into...it hasn't been a summer for penalties and for sanctions.”
“[The fixtures calendar is] something for us all to aim for and to hope to get to but we have to do an awful lot of things right in order for us to get to that stage and part of that is abiding by the timelines and principles that we've set out.
“We'll be asking people to abide by those because they're the right thing to do. If there's a second stage required in terms of sanctions and penalties and so on, yeah of course we'll look at that.”