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GAA chief: some clubs paying managers

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Mark Jones

DUBLIN — GAA president Sean McCague has claimed that as many as 18 counties are currently breaking the amateur status rules. McCague said he reckoned that team managers were being paid, and that if the counties’ officers were not paying, they were "aiding and abetting" the payments.

In a sharp address to the Cavan convention, McCague added that the practice of paying managers was also prevalent at club level.

"This is causing great strain on clubs’ finances, and officers of county boards are obliged to intervene in cases where the GAA’s amateur status rules are being broken," he said.

However, he insisted that he was not specifically referring to Cavan.

"I am not coming to Cavan to say that there is an insinuation or an inference here," he said.

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Last month, McCague had further opened the debate over the possibility of other sports being played in Croke Park when he suggested that the GAA could consider staging rugby or soccer matches at their headquarters if there were changes to the association’s rules, and on the back of his comments, the Kilkenny convention has resoundingly approved any proposal to introduced other sports to Croke Park.

At last Sunday’s annual meeting, 31 of 38 Kilkenny clubs voted that the new stadium should be made available to other sports — five clubs voted no, and two abstained. The county secretary, Pat Dunphy, had endorsed McCague’s views before the convention and he was supported by Slieve Rua delegate, Jim Walsh, who said it was logical that the GAA should rent out Croke Park to maximize its financial potential.

The GAA is in the process of establishing a new committee, comprising full-time staff and volunteers, to oversee the running of Croke Park when the redevelopment is complete. It has also emerged recently that the anticipated overspend on the stadium will be almost £40 million, so, clearly, the association needs to generate more revenue to cover the extra costs.

Those revenues may stem from opening Croke Park to sports such as soccer and rugby. However, they won’t be created by sponsorship from alcohol companies if the GAA’s patron, Archbishop Dermot Clifford, has anything to do with it.

Speaking at the Tipperary convention in Thurles last weekend, Clifford urged the GAA to look elsewhere for sponsorship.

"A great effort must be made to stem the ever increasing tide of underage drinking," he said.

The All Ireland hurling championship is currently sponsored by Guinness.

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