GPA: We engaged with our members "extensively" regarding competition reform

The Gaelic Players Association (GPA) have come out strongly in response to allegations that they did not sufficiently communicate with their members ahead of the 'Super 8' reform vote at last weekend's GAA Congress

GPA

Image: ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

The Gaelic Players Association (GPA) say they "engaged extensively" with their members ahead of last weekend's GAA Congress and "actively sought opinions" on the vote regarding competition reform.

The GPA came in from criticism from Armagh delegate Jarlath Burns this week, who claimed that the GPA "sent a WhatsApp [message] to the county representatives" and accused them of failing to communicate sufficiently with their members. 

This evening, the GPA has responded and have laid out a timeline of when exactly they got in contact with members and what was discussed.

"The GPA has engaged extensively with our members with regard to competition reform over the past 18 months in the form of surveys, squad meetings, regional workshops, the establishment of a steering group of current and former players and through a multitude of communications providing information and seeking input and feedback at various junctures," they said on Tuesday night in a statement. 

"The most recent consultation with all inter-county squads was to ascertain a consensus as to how the sole GPA vote at Congress would be employed.

"Over 70% of squads expressed a wish to vote against this proposal. The reasons for the player opposition to this proposal have already been outlined."

The 'Super 8' proposal last weekend at the GAA Congress and GPA chief executive Dermot Earley claimed the passing of the motion displayed a "disconnect" between the GAA and the players around the country.

With regards to how they communicated with their members, the GPA continues: "Following the initial release of the ‘GAA’s Proposal on The Revised Format of the All-Ireland Championships’ last year, the Players' body actively sought opinions of all squads and reconvened the steering group who considered the proposals.

"It should also be noted that following extensive work in bringing forward a new competitions model, the Players' own proposals were dismissed by the GAA partly on the basis that they contained more games."

They say that despite the body accepting the decision of Congress, they will "continue to consult with all inter-county players whose views will determine the next course of action for the GPA" when discussing matters of Championship reform.

The organisation say these views will be represented through the 'GAA/GPA Player Policy Forum', arising from a 2016 GAA/GPA Agreement.

They also add an outline of alleged GPA engagement with players on competition structure reform over the last 18 months

Engagement

  • May-July 2015 All players and squads encouraged to submit to GPA views on competition structures.
  • October 2015 Players unveil Football Competitions restructure discussion document.
  • December 2015 Players’ body is the first group to submit a proposal to GAA on the reform of football competitions.
  • January 2016 GPA proposal is rejected by GAA. Further consultation takes place with squad reps on next steps.
  • Proposal for a B Championship for Division 4 counties is put forward by GAA.
  • Following consultation with affected players GPA announces that relevant squads will boycott any new competition.
  • February 2016 motion for B Championship is withdrawn before going to Congress.
  • March 2016 regional Student workshops conducted across 5 venues with 3rd Level students where feedback was sought on competition structures.
  • May 2016 as part of a series of nationwide regional workshops across 8 venues with GPA members, further consultation on competition structure is carried out.

August Onward

  • August 2016 GAA’s Proposal on Revised Format of the All Ireland Championships released – copy of proposal sent to all members with feedback sought.
  • September 2016 meeting of GPA Football Competitions Steering Group.
  • September 2016 consultation with GPA squad reps on GAA Proposal to gather squad views on GAA Proposal.
  • October 2016 GAA release updated Proposal Document.
  • October 2016 GPA circulate full document to all members, with separate explanation of key points in the proposal. All players provided with opportunity to present views on updated proposal.
  • October 2016 GPA present results of squad feedback to all players. Players favoured overwhelming GPA proposal over new GAA proposal.
  • October 2016 GAA Proposal discussed at GPA Player Safety and Welfare meeting to assess any implications on welfare of inter county players.
  • November 2016 GPA National Executive Committee updated on current position.
  • December 2016 at Annual GPA Rep Summit workshop on strategic issues including competition structures and GAA proposal.
  • February 2016 consultation with National Executive Committee on motions for Congress including GAA proposal.
  • February 2016 final consultation with all squad reps. Consensus reached as to how the GPA delegate should vote at Congress
  • Over 70% of squads voted against proposal of ‘Super 8’ format.