Players go 'Green' on football championship structure

GPA CEO Tom Parsons (right,) with GPA national executive committee member and Tyrone goalkeeper Niall Morgan.
GPA CEO Tom Parsons (right,) with GPA national executive committee member and Tyrone goalkeeper Niall Morgan.

The Gaelic Players Association (GPA) has announced that it will be backing the 'Green' proposal when discussions on a potential motion on the football championship structure for next month’s GAA Congress take place at GAA Central Council this Saturday.

The 'green' format would retain the current Allianz League and provincial championships' structure from last year, to be followed by round robin groups for the Sam Maguire and Tailteann Cups.

The 'red' proposal envisions a round robin provincial championship in February and March, followed by a league-based championship from April onwards; both plans would start next year.

GPA CEO Tom Parsons wrote to all county boards informing them of the players’ position on Tuesday evening. Following consultation in recent weeks, approximately 70% of squads are in favour of the Green proposal, 15% in equal favour of Red and Green proposals, and 15% in favour of the Red proposal.

The GPA statement said: "There is consensus among players that both proposals are a significant improvement to the status quo and this is to be welcomed. Players feel a unified approach for change at the upcoming GAA Congress must be a key priority.

"Players' support for 'Proposal B' at Special Congress last October was based on three key criteria: Fairness, Development and Change. It is extremely positive from a player’s perspective that both the Green and Red proposals respect those criteria. It is clear that the supporters of change at Special Congress were listened to.

"It is also important to recognise that the other key takeaways from Special Congress has also been listened to i.e. maintaining a strong connection between the provincial championships and the 'Sam Maguire' competition. Players heard this message and again it’s clear that both Green and Red proposals have moved to keep that meaningful connection."

Further explaining the players' favouring of 'Green', the GPA explained: "Players were unanimous on the need for change and believe that Green will help align all stakeholders in the GAA to achieve that change in February’s Congress.

"Players agreed that the Green proposal was easy to follow and gives more value to the provincial championships while maintaining the pillars of development i.e. ensuring all counties are guaranteed a minimum number of Championship games, which supports a balanced approach in the development of teams throughout the season.

"The Green proposal strengthens the importance of the national leagues and maintains league winners across all four divisions, which was an important factor for players when comparing with Red.

"Fairness is evident in both proposals with all teams having an opportunity to compete against teams at their own level and maintains the opportunity for all teams to compete and win Sam Maguire. The reward for the Tailteann Cup winners - automatic entry into the following year's Sam Maguire series - is still considered a strong reward to further incentivise a competitive competition.