“Let me say unequivocally to any people who like to delude themselves, that a benevolent administration is working tirelessly on out behalf,” he said. “This is nonsense. Player welfare has improved because of the GPA and because the GPA stands independently. It is my view that this is our strength. There was precious little progress before the GPA and the internal players’ committee would prove to be a very toothless tiger without our existence.
“To claim that the players’ lot has been improved from within is fantasy. To claim that any of our aims can be met in the future by a body controlled internally by the GAA is fantasy. Yes, we will continue to work tirelessly with the GAA on every aspect of player welfare. We will continue to argue the case for the player. We will continue to talk with our managers and our county boards, but I feel we should do this independently. That is our strength.”
All this means that the GPA will not cooperate in any restructuring of the GAA’s official Players’ Committee, which will present incoming GAA president Sean Kelly with a problem when he has to select his own committee over the coming months.
“Everyone knows who represents the players,” Farrell said. “There’s not a need for the Players’ Committee. It will be farcical if GPA players won’t participate in any election. Who does that committee represent?”
On the subject of players’ commercial interests, the meeting passed a motion that GPA members would “solely cooperate with an agency or agencies approved by the National Executive Committee.”
Donal O’Neill, the marketing consultant who helped establish the GPA, spoke about his discussions with Croke Park about the future of the agency business.
“Players will deal with agents approved by the executive,” he said. “Croke Park hasn’t represented the players adequately. We have more expertise in the area as well as the support of the players. But any discussion on our taking on the agency work would depend on Croke Park acknowledging that the GPA holds the legal rights to the image of the players.”