Gaelic Players Association CEO Paul Flynn has criticised GAA Director General Tom Ryan for writing that the rising cost of fielding senior inter-county teams is unsustainable.
In Ryan's annual report, which was released on Tuesday, it was stated that €29.74 million was spent by the 32 counties in fielding senior sides in 2019. That was an 11.6 per cent increase from the previous year.
"This is not sustainable in the long-term – or even in the short-term if we experience an economic reverse," wrote Ryan.
"Quite apart from being sustainable, it is not desirable. Yes, counties will invariably secure the funds they
need, but at the cost of immense pressure on the officers."
Ryan went on to suggest that spending caps may be required to halt an arms race between counties.
In a statement, Flynn said that creating a "modern form of sustainable amateurism" for GAA will be a "central tenet" of the GPA's soon to be finalised strategic plan.
Criticising the GAA, he said that, "it is disappointing for our members, that the inter-county game to which they dedicate 31 hours of their time each week, as they proudly represent their counties, is once again being presented as the GAA’s problem child. Far from being a problem child, inter-county games, and the players that make them the spectacle that they are, continue to be the jewel in the crown of the GAA.
"Therefore, in the midst of the record-breaking revenues of €73.9 million reported for 2019 (up 16%), which are primarily and overwhelmingly generated off the inter county games, it is disappointing to see that it is the so-called unsustainable costs of those inter-county games commanding such a share of the GAA’s attention.
"Instead we should be celebrating the inter-county games for the success story that they are. The resources our members help generate enable the GAA to be the fantastic community and club-based organisation it is.
"The GAA proudly stated on the publication of their Annual Accounts that for every €1 revenue it takes in, it reinvests 84 cent across the association for which it should be rightly commended. Approximately 90% of those revenues are generated through the inter-county game; 49% by gate receipts, 27% by commercial income (sponsorship and media), 14% by distribution from Croke Park. All of these are attributable to the inter county games. This is only the central accounts and does not account for provincial and county board revenue.
"Our inter-county games are the revenue generating machine that allows the GAA to compete with rugby, soccer and other sports for hearts and minds of the Irish public. Our inter-county games are the flagship promotional and developmental tool that keeps the GAA in the news and journalists, pundits, administrators, coaches, physios and all the other professionals working within the inter county games in jobs. Our inter-county games allow the GAA to thrive on the field and financially.
"We have seen this ploy of painting inter county games in a negative light used consistently to keep players down, to make them feel like they are lucky to be involved in the games. Make no mistake, the players, past and present, are proud to represent their counties at the highest level but the GAA is also lucky to have those players who give so much of themselves, often to their own detriment, to allow it generate the revenues that keeps the association afloat."
Flynn added that the GPA will soon publish the findings of a report into the economic benefit of inter-county fixtures which "generate a total economic impact of €390 million annually, supporting 3,600 jobs and directly contributing over €40 million to the exchequer".
He concluded by saying that the role which inter-county players and games play in "the overall health of the GAA" should have been acknowledged in Ryan's report.
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