GPA challenges GAA over unpaid and reduced expenses

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The Gaelic Players Association says it is “extremely disappointed” that the GAA is seeking to continue the savings on player expenses and allowances introduced during the pandemic in 2022.

After agreeing to a reduction in the Players’ Charter provision for the 2020 and 2021 seasons as attendances and entry receipts were affected by Covid-19, the Players Group believe there should now be a full reinstatement of the charter provisions that were in place before Covid. .

An update was given to inter-county players today by GPA CEO Tom Parsons who said the players group had been in negotiations with the GAA since before Christmas on a charter for this year.

“In 2020 and 2021, the GPA agreed to reduced provisions for travel, equipment and footwear at a time when GAA’s financial situation was uncertain,” the memo to members reads.

“The GPA has agreed to do this in good faith with the GAA on the basis that a return to normalcy would see the reinstatement of the 2019 charter provisions at a minimum,” Parsons added in its communication to players.

“The GPA is extremely disappointed that the position of the GAA at the start of 2022 was to continue with the cost reduction mechanisms, i.e. players receive a reduced mileage rate of 50c and to continue to cap the players so that they are only allowed to claim expenses for three sessions per week, with all other sessions being the responsibility of the player.”

In its annual financial results for 2021, the GAA recorded a surplus of €13.5 million.

Parsons said the GPA data showed how player mileage expenditures since 2020 had been reduced by 40% per player on average, and a majority of players had not been paid for 2022 travel expenses.

He threatened unspecified “player action” if this was not resolved.

“During the negotiation process and independent of an agreed charter, we have repeatedly asked the GAA to pay for ‘reimbursable’ travel expenses for collective player training sessions,” Parsons said.

“Three months later, the vast majority of players have still not been paid. The latest GAA proposal still includes a cap on the number of sessions a player can claim per week, and the GAA suggests moving negotiations above that ceiling to players and their county councils locally.

“The GPA believes this is unfair and contrary to the spirit of the charter. It is both surprising and disappointing given the latest publication of GAA’s financial performance.

“The GPA will undertake a detailed cultural audit of the cross-county playing environment and we are demanding that all players be paid incurred expenses for all collective training sessions with immediate effect. Until each player is paid his expenses for all the collective sessions, there will be action from the players in response.”

The memo also expresses frustrations that players were not consulted on increasing the number of commercial sponsors on players’ shirts for 2022.

He added that their players are representing their counties at a time when the cost of living and travel is at a level not seen in generations and says a full reset by the GAA is needed when it comes to respect for the inter-county players.

In November 2020, GAA and GPA agreed to a new protocol to maintain the 15% share of net commercial revenue allocated to GPA by GAA each year.

This was designed to encourage the two associations to work in partnership to develop commercial revenues to their full potential.

Also in 2020, as the GAA faced unprecedented financial losses, a rate of 50c per mile spend for inter-county players was agreed, down from the 65c that had previously been agreed. The nutrition allowance remained at €20 per week and it was observed that gear allowances would be managed “cautiously and as needed”.

The GAA had also introduced a new centralized expense payment system for 2020 and 2021 with the number of teams limited to 32. All payments were based on three training sessions per week. The agreement stated that anything above that, in terms of number of teams and frequency of practice/gym sessions, would be up to the county itself to fund directly.

This charter continued in 2021.

But the finalization of an agreement between the two organizations for 2022 still seems far from complete.

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