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What is the GAA and GPA dispute over player expenses?

Players and managers boycotted interviews over the weekend.

File photo of Meath boss Andy McEntee being interviewed.
File photo of Meath boss Andy McEntee being interviewed.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

IT WAS THE same story across at most inter-county football games over the weekend.

Players and managers refused to conduct interviews to the media before or after Allianz Football League games in a bid to raise awareness over a delay in payment of expenses.

The delay does not apply to all counties but the move to boycott press duties, which has been pushed by the Gaelic Players Association, has been taken by all teams in an act of solidarity. 

In a message to players on Friday, GPA chief executive Tom Parsons warned that “until every player is paid their expenses for all collective sessions, there will be action by players in response.”

That action saw squads across all four divisions instructed not to engage in interviews for the round 5 ties. Many managers joined them in solidarity. 

Rebels boss Keith Ricken and his Meath counterpart Andy McEntee declined post-match interviews after yesterday’s Division 2 clash in Pairc Tailteann.

“The one thing I’ll say there’s no problem in Meath,” said McEntee.

“Our lads are paid up but if other lads aren’t, we have to stand up for them.”

The GAA’s broadcast partners RTÉ and TG4 had no customary TV interviews with man-of-the-match winners after the Kerry-Mayo, Tyrone-Dublin and Meath-Cork clashes over the weekend. 

Kingdom boss Jack O’Connor did engage in post-game interviews following the defeat of Mayo in Tralee. However, it’s understood he was unaware that managers had also been asked not to engage in interviews until the Kerry PRO informed him afterwards.

James Horan declined to speak to the media on Saturday night, while the Tyrone and Dublin bosses did likewise yesterday. Kieran McGeeney, Glenn Ryan plus players from Armagh and Kildare also turned down interviews with the BBC and written press on Saturday.

“I have just been informed by Declan Bonner that managers have been asked to support the players in this action and he will also not be doing interviews,” Donegal GAA announced on Saturday.  

However, other managers such as Padraic Joyce (Galway) and Seamus McEnaney (Monaghan) did give interviews.

In his communication to GPA members, Parsons said “the vast majority” of players had not received expenses since training started this season.

The pandemic saw the Association centralise the players expenses system. It was hoped this scheme would mean players were recompensed quicker.

Parsons also voiced his displeasure at the GAA’s failure to restore the mileage rate of 65c per mile, which had been reduced to 50c for the 2020 and 2021 campaigns due to the impact of Covid.

In addition, the GAA’s decision during the pandemic to only permit players claim expenses for three sessions per week has not yet been reversed. 

He said they have been in negotiations with the GAA over the issue since before Christmas.

Speaking on Allianz League Sunday last night, Parsons said the GPA were willing to take further action if the issue isn’t resolved.

“Absolutely. Players want to take action just to get reimbursed.

“We’re meeting with representatives and captains this week. We’ll be talking about that (possible further action). There will be action this week, but we’re hoping the GAA comes back and just boxes this off.

“I’m hoping it is resolved this week.”

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He added that their main priority was to ensure players weren’t out of pocket for playing county football.

“We feel the GAA get a very favourable deal and generate hundreds of millions of euros of the inter-county game.

“In response players just don’t want to to pay to play. They want to receive their eligible expenses for all sessions. If they are asked to train two, or seven times in a week, they just want to be treated fairly.”

“In response players just don’t want to to pay to play. They want to receive their eligible expenses for all sessions. If they are asked to train two, or seven times in a week, they just want to be treated fairly.”

In a statement released last night, the GAA noted that “majority of the cost of mileage for inter-county teams is borne by individual counties with a subvention provided by the GAA centrally.”

After talks stalled with the GPA on Thursday, the GAA’s Management Committee issued a fresh player charter “to allow for payments of outstanding expenses since the return of inter county teams to be processed as soon as possible.”

The new template allowed for the reinstatement of 65c per mile for four collective training sessions/games per week.

“The mileage rate for any additional sessions now requires to be negotiated locally between each county and their players,” it added.

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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