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Here's the GPA's radical proposal to change the All-Ireland football championships

A first draft of their proposals was released this week.

General view of the Sam Maguire cup The Sam Maguire Cup Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

THE GPA’S NEW football championship proposals seek to introduce a 32-team All-Ireland series of eight groups with seedings determined by National league standings while the provincial championships will be retained as standalone competitions.

The42 has seen a copy of the first draft of their proposal which was released earlier this week to inter-county players.

GPA boss Dessie Farrell admitted last month that there was an urgent need for reform and that they would be bringing forward a proposal to Central Council on the back of extensive consultation with players.

Dessie Farrell GPA CEO Dessie Farrell Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

The42 understands that players will be allowed to provide feedback before the final proposal is submitted.

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The key points include:

  • Pre-season provincial competitions (O’Byrne Cup, McGrath Cup, FBD League and Dr McKenna Cup) in January to be abolished.
  • National League to start in early February with eight rounds to be played before the conclusion in late March.
  • No National League semi-finals and finals with winners to be determined by top-ranked teams in each division. Score difference or head-to-head records to apply in the event of a tie.

The Dublin team celebrate with the Division one trophy Dublin players celebrating their league final win in April. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

  • The provincial championships will be standalone competitions which will have no bearing on the All-Ireland series. They will be run off in the month of April to be completed by the first weekend of May.
  • The All-Ireland series will  see eight groups of four teams with seedings to be determined from final NFL position. An open draw will take place with one team from each seeding pot in each group.
  • Round-robin games will take place with extra-time in the event of a draw with the bottom-ranked side having home advantage in their game against the top seed.
  • There will be two pools A&B, with four groups in each pool, by separating games into pools, they can be fixed on alternate weekends to allow TV coverage.
  • The top 8 sides go straight into the last 16, with the 2nd and 3rd placed teams entering the second round and the bottom team eliminated.
  • The championship then takes place on a knockout basis with All-Ireland quarter-finals (July 30th-31st), All-Ireland semi-finals (Aug 13th-14th) and All-Ireland final (Sept 4th).

Kerry players celebrate with the Sam Maguire cup Kerry players celebrating after last year's All-Ireland final win over Donegal. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

The GPA also forecast there will be increased gate receipts given the importance of the National League games and the increase in the number of Championship games.

The proposal also factors in club players.

  • The bulk of club fixtures will take place from July to October, providing a clear and definitive programme for club players.
  • There will be free weekends in April and May for club fixtures to take place.
  • By 18 July, 24 counties will be free to resume club programme.

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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