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GAA president and director-general back Proposal B to revamp football championship

It’s a hugely significant moment as GAA hierarchy offer their opinion on the matter for the first time.

GAA president Larry McCarthy.
GAA president Larry McCarthy.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

GAA PRESIDENT LARRY McCarthy and director-general Tom Ryan have offered their support for Proposal B ahead of Saturday’s Special Congress.

In what is the first time GAA hierarchy have sided with a format ahead of this weekend’s vote, both McCarthy and Ryan emphasised it is their personal view.

They encouraged delegates to make an informed decision on Saturday.

“I think I would like to see Proposal B implemented,” said McCarthy at today’s media briefing in Croke Park. “I think there’s a momentum for change.”

Ryan added: “If you’re looking at what you’d like to see the characteristics of a football championship having, two of the things to my mind would be teams playing at their own level and you have a finite number of games, a definite start and end, and teams that get to the same stage of a competition have played the same number of matches.

“And B does that. So for that reason, I think Motion 19 (Proposal B) is the one I’d like to see.”

Ryan stressed that the differences in finances between the three proposed formats are “inconsequential”.

“It is not a financial decision,” he said. “The first thing to look at is what shape you want the championship to look like next year. Whatever hand is dealt with by Congress, we will make the best of that as we can.

“We weren’t putting financial numbers to the forefront of the decision-making progress. If it was a case that one was hugely more beneficial than the other then we would have a responsibility to do that, but given the margin of difference between them, it is not something we are intent on making an issue of.”

While they accepted tweaks may be necessary to Proposal A or B if it is successful, the motions are “set in stone” for 2022 should it be voted in. Any alterations to the structure would come after the first season, but McCarthy confirmed he is open a trial period and tweaking the format if required.

“We would be open to that as the thing progresses,” Ryan said of refining the structure after the first season.

“And I know the notion of a trial is something you’re not adverse to, Uachtaran.”

McCarthy responded, “No, absolutely not. I would like to see this come in, we’ll trial it. If we need to tweak it subsequently we’ll tweak it. We’re not immune from tweaking it.

“We tweaked the Super 8s, we didn’t like them and we essentially got rid of them. We went back to the quarter-finals. If there’s something that arises assuming that B is implemented and there’s something not right with it or not working for us, we’ll certainly tweak it.

“We’ll certainly review it at the end of the championship season. Which clearly will come very early next year, it’ll be the end of July when we’ll be finished. So we’ll have plenty of time in which to do our revision. We’ll be doing it anyway.”

Ryan added: “You certainly wouldn’t be reticent about it because it’s not perfect. One of the things we’ve learned as we’re going through it there isn’t a perfect solution that addresses every single requirement of every single person and matches every single perspective.

“I think (Motion) 19 certainly is a moving positive in the right direction for us. That’s the one I would favour.”

The majority of pushback against Proposal B has come from Ulster and provincial councils.

“It hasn’t disappointed us,” McCarthy said of the opposition from the northern province.

“I mean you would expect Ulster would be advocating for their championship.”

“That’s an association wide view of things, it’s not a provincial versus central council or Ulster versus Munster,” said Ryan. “We are looking at what the resources will be that will be available to all of us.

“And we know what our responsibility are as the national governing body of things and we have always lived up to those. And we’ve said, not just to Ulster but to any of the provinces or counties and we have met with all over the course of the last few weeks is the level of resources to the broader association will be broadly the same.

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“Our responsibilities to you will be approximately the same and we will still live up to those responsibilities.”

Funds could be redistributed to provincial councils if they stand to lose out financially due to provincial championships moving to the spring.

“That happens all the time, irrespective of what we might be looking at in temrs of champioship structures or anything,” said Ryan. “That’s a discussion that goes on all the time between oursleevs and the provinces and that is a healthy thing.”

“The moving of the championship to earlier in the year might be a concern but as Tom has said in terms of finances and support that’s not going to change,” McCarthy added.

In the event the National Leagues essentially become the championship, it would present obvious sponsorship issues for the GAA’s lengthy association with Allianz, the title league sponsors who have a deal that runs up until 2025.

The GAA would review all sponsorship activities in such a scenario.

“We pick the best football structure and then we try and do the best we can around those parameters,” stated Ryan. “We do our best to keep our sponsors and commercial partners appraised of what is in our thinking.”

McCarthy added, “Your sponsors shouldn’t be dictating what your structure is.”

183 delegates in total will vote at Special Congress. Central Council plan on releasing the 2022 fixture plan on 20 November, regardless of which format comes into play next season.

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien  / Reports from Croke Park

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