By Sean Creedon and Mark Jones
DUBLIN — The GAA moved last week to quell the growing unrest in the ranks of its top inter-county players by announcing a range of measures designed to improve off the pitch earnings.
As well as offering complimentary match tickets for
high profile games, players will now be allowed to endorse products and make personal appearances.
Players will receive 50 percent of any money earned, with 30 percent going to the squad, 10 percent to the county board and 10 percent to a hardship fund. There will also be better mileage allowance and, more complimentary tickets
However, the new concessions came with the caveat that all deals must be monitored by and negotiated through the GAA which also said it was refusing to recognize the newly constituted Gaelic Players’ Association (GPA).
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While the GAA may be hoping to placate its players, it is hard to see these measures coming on stream without opposition from the GPA which is bound to object to endorsements having to be approved by Croke Park.
In fact, there have already been suggestions that the GAA’s new regulations may be illegal.
"Players can argue that they would get a better deal through
an outside agent," said one lawyer, "and that they don’t want the GAA knowing all the details of their business. By insisting that it looks after everything, the GAA is in danger of being accused of restrictive practice."
The GPA’s administrator, Donal O’Neill, said the implications of the
regulations would be looked at very carefully. "In the end, the players make the decisions and at this stage, we are discounting nothing."
Now where does all this leave the GPA, which has already signed up
more than 500 inter-county players. The GPA claim that the GAA has only made these concessions because of the formation of the players body.
Could we see strike action at some stage?
Now the referees could also cash in on the massive coverage now devoted to Gaelic games. For this season’s championship campaign we could see the men in black be carrying a sponsor’s logo on their jersey, and no, it will not be the well known opticians Specsavers.