GAA face player revolt as GPA threaten nuclear option over championship reform
The GPA is finally showing its teeth perhaps.
Earlier this week Tipperary's Michael Quinlivan admitted that players across the country were hugely disappointed at the prospect of sides in Division Four of the national league having to be excluded from the All-Ireland series under new GAA championship reform plans.
He described the prospect of Tipperary playing in a 'B' Championship as 'catastrophic', and did not deny that there could be the possibility of an all-out strike by players unhappy with the GAA reform of the SFC.
At the association's annual congress in Carlow later this month, delegates are to be asked to vote on a proposal that will see a radical alteration in the championship structure for some of the weakest teams in Ireland.
The GAA shot down the proposal from the GPA that would have doubled the amount of championship games, but now according to the player's body, there could be a threat of strike action unless the GAA is willing to change its proposal that would see Division four teams play in a 'B' championship.
"County teams directly affected by the introduction of a ‘B’ football championship have agreed unanimously they will not participate in any new structure if this format is approved by Congress later this month."
The GAA player's representative body have never endorsed a full-on strike before, but the move indicates the depth of unhappiness across the country, and especially among Division Four teams, as to how they are perceived by Croke Park.
The statement goes on to ask for time and consideration for other GAA proposals that could avoid an all-out strike among eight county sides this summer.
"The GPA has consulted extensively with squad reps from the Division 4 and a significant majority in each county have indicated they will refuse to play in the ‘B’ competition proposed by Central Council in January.
“The players’ body has contacted the GAA on behalf of the membership and indicated the issue of football competitions must be revisited and a solution found to the current challenges around viable structures."
The GPA's statement piles further pressure on Paraic Duffy who last month claimed that once the vote went ahead at Congress, he wished to hear no more about possible championship changes.
The GPA admit that their own proposal was not likely to be accepted as it was, but they feel that its dismissal outright is a huge insult to the organisation's time and efforts on behalf of county players.
The organisation are hopeful that an independent body can be set up to look at possble championship changes.
"We would encourage the GAA, post Congress, to establish a high powered free-standing 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."