Counties will refuse to play in B Championship, according to the GPA

A statement released by the Gaelic Players Association also called on the GAA to re-open discussions on football championship reform

County teams will refuse to play in the newly proposed All-Ireland B football championship, should the new structure be approved at the annual GAA Congress this month.

According to the Gaelic Players Association, counties who have been directly affected by the proposed change have "agreed unanimously" in opposition to the move and urged the GAA to re-open discussions regarding reforming the system.

“County teams directly affected by the introduction of a B football championship have agreed unanimously that they will not participate in any new structure if this format is approved by congress later this month" read the statement.

“The GPA has consulted extensively with squad reps from the Division 4 squads and a significant majority of players in each county have indicated that they will refuse to play in B competition proposed by Central Council in January.

“The players’ body has contacted the GAA on behalf of the membership and indicated that the issue of football competitions must be revisited and a solution found to the current challenges around viable structures."

The newly proposed B Championship will be confined to teams placed in Division 4 at the conclusion of the National Football League. 

They will play in their provincial championship and then participate in an All-Ireland B championship.

A straight knock-out system will be employed and the winners of the competition will be awarded a a place in the following year’s All-Ireland football qualifier.

“While the GPA welcomes the debate generated over the past six months there is a need to now establish a more effective process to bring about the change required. The GPA wishes to collaborate with all stakeholders within the GAA in an effort to establish an agreed new structure as the process put in place in this instance proved highly ineffective.

“County players (through the GPA) understand that they are only one key group with views on this issue. However, we would encourage the GAA, post Congress, to establish a high powered freestanding working group to address the football competitions debacle and related issues. We suggest this group includes a strong representation of county players and club players who are the individuals most affected by the current procrastination. The views of county players have been communicated to the GAA in this regard.

“The GPA would also call on delegates at the upcoming GAA Congress to vote against any proposal supporting a B Championship and are encouraging all football county squads to canvass their respective county delegates on this matter.

You can read the full statement below:

“County teams directly affected by the introduction of a B football championship have agreed unanimously that they will not participate in any new structure if this format is approved by congress later this month.

“The GPA has consulted extensively with squad reps from the Division 4 squads and a significant majority of players in each county have indicated that they will refuse to play in B competition proposed by Central Council in January.

“The players’ body has contacted the GAA on behalf of the membership and indicated that the issue of football competitions must be revisited and a solution found to the current challenges around viable structures.

“As stated by the GPA from the outset of the process, the player proposals were never envisaged to be accepted as a fait accompli. However, the GPA clearly indicated that a B championship concept would not be supported by players.

“The GPA reiterates its rejection of the claims that a more condensed county playing season would impact negatively on club fixtures and in particular state that the current, protracted format, is impacting severely on club fixture programmes. One of the specific aims of the players’ proposals was to tackle the training culture that pervades the GAA at all levels.

“It is inconceivable to think that after this lengthy process the status quo will pertain while there is a growing consensus for urgent change amongst players; club and county, supporters and now administrators.

“While the GPA welcomes the debate generated over the past six months there is a need to now establish a more effective process to bring about the change required. The GPA wishes to collaborate with all stakeholders within the GAA in an effort to establish an agreed new structure as the process put in place in this instance proved highly ineffective.

“County players (through the GPA) understand that they are only one key group with views on this issue. However, we would encourage the GAA, post Congress, to establish a high powered freestanding working group to address the football competitions debacle and related issues. We suggest this group includes a strong representation of county players and club players who are the individuals most affected by the current procrastination. The views of county players have been communicated to the GAA in this regard.

“The GPA would also call on delegates at the upcoming GAA Congress to vote against any proposal supporting a B Championship and are encouraging all football county squads to canvass their respective county delegates on this matter.

“Separately, the GPA would urge delegates to support the motion going to Congress proposing change to the U21FC format, reducing the age limit to U20, in an attempt to alleviate pressure on number of younger county players early in each season. This was one of a number of recommendations issued in the GPA Student Report – Never Enough Time, published last May.”