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Explained: The GAA’s move to tackle 'illegal' manager payments
Senior county officials will meet on Saturday to discuss ways to solve the manager payment controversy. Here’s our Q&A guide to what it’s all about.

What’s the problem?

AS AN AMATEUR organisation, GAA rules don’t allow inter-county managers to be paid for their services, though they can be reimbursed at set rates for travel and meal expenses.

However, there is a widespread trend of paying managers “under the table”, a practice described by GAA President Christy Cooney as “a cancer a running through our organisation.”

A recent Irish Independent report estimated that these payments could total €15m per annum, with some managers receiving between €30,000 and €50,000 for their services.

Why is this all coming to a head now?

As the volume of these illegal payments increased, the GAA was guilty of repeatedly turning a blind eye to the problem, despite the fact that they clearly breach the Association’s amateur ethos.

The issue was raised by Director General Paraic Duffy at the GAA’s annual conference in 2010, and Duffy drafted and presented a report in November of that year.

After a 14-month delay, Duffy’s 29-page report was published today. It is due to be discussed at a meeting of senior county officials in Croke Park this Saturday.

What are the options proposed?

Duffy’s report outlines three possible options:

  • Continue with the current policy, with the Association turning a blind eye to its rules being broken.
  • Implement the Association’s existing rules fully, cracking down on manager payments.
  • Introduce a new system to regulate manager payments, a move rejected by some critics who believe it will “professionalise” the GAA.

In his report, Duffy says that the status quo is not a viable option. Why?

Principally because it undermines the Association’s amateur status. “If we continue to do nothing, the GAA will fall victim to a creeping professionalism that will eventually thoroughly undermine and erode its amateur status,” Duffy writes in his report.

The status quo also creates inequality, whereby some managers are rewarded for their work while others are not.

If the GAA chooses to implement its existing rules, what would it need to do?

One possible way to enforce these rules would be to create a central Registration and Audit Board. Each county would be obliged to submit complete details of fees and expenses paid to the manager and other members of the management team.

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How would a system of regulated payments work?

One option is for managers to be seen as service provider, submitting invoices to the county board and receiving remuneration based on agreed. This system is currently used by most counties to pay doctors, physios, nutritionists for their services.

Alternatively, the county board, provincial council or Croke Park could become the formal employer of the team manager, signing him to a contract for a specified number of years.

If payments are “legalised”, the GAA has said that it will set a limit for the maximum amount of compensation which a manager can receive.

Does this discussion affect payments to managers at club level?

No, the GAA is not revising its policy on payments to club managers, who will only be legally entitled to expenses.

What happens next?

The GAA will now establish a working group to over see the formulation of an official GAA policy. After inviting and evaluating submission from members, this working group will draw up a firm proposal. Work is expected to be completed within six months.

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