Jarlath Burns: The GPA didn't communicate sufficiently with their members

He was speaking on Monday night's Off The Ball

BY Cian Roche 08:50 Tuesday 28 February 2017, 8:50 28 Feb 2017

Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

The passing of Motion 4 during Saturday's GAA Congress was met with mixed reaction from players and pundits around the country.

Many were against the introduction of a 'Super 8' system which will come into effect in the football championship from 2018 for a three-year trial period and will do away with quarter-finals in exchange for two groups of four, in which each team will play a home game, an away game and a game in Croke Park.

The system will add more games to the Championship over the course of the summer and aims to add more higher quality games to the Championship. 

Gaelic Players Association (GPA) chief executive Dermot Earley claimed the passing of the motion displayed a "disconnect" between the GAA and the players around the country.

He also claimed that the players felt like they weren't properly consulted: "We're very disappointed. Just on behalf of our players I think one of the big issues is that they would have felt that they weren't consulted.

"I know in response to that comment that I made, Páraic would have felt that there was a lot of consultation that took place."

He added: "We surveyed our players and got down to each and every panel within the country. It came back unanimous that they weren't in favour of this."

Speaking on tonight's Off The Ball, former Armagh captain and current Armagh delegate Jarlath Burns scolded the GPA for not 'sufficiently communicating' with their players.

"If you look at the word disconnect, I think there was a disconnect between the GPA and their management," he said. "I'm my club's secretary and I got this document on 5 August, a consultation document. 

"I went around all of the membership of my club, we made sure proposals were well debated within the club. And then the following week, after the August 5, there was an Ard Chomhairle meeting. The GPA have a representative on that.

"It was presented to all the members of Ard Chomhairle there, one representative from every county. The GPA didn't speak up on it. They then had three months in which to talk to their membership. It was up to them.

"They have a well-staffed secretary of 10 people. It was up to them to go around and set up focus groups and talk to the players about it. Then they should have had further meetings dedicated to the topic on October 29 - another Ard Chomhairle meeting - and the previous day they had met all the county chairs. 

"A number of clubs and counties made slight amendments emerging from this, like the fact that the Super 8 would be run on a three-year trial period. 

"There wasn't one word from the GPA. They never said one word at either of those two meetings and they never properly consulted with their players. 

"On February 8, three weeks before Congress, the GPA sent a WhatsApp to the county representatives - not even the individual players - and it was up to the representatives to send that then to their own players. 

"I think there's a serious issue in here from the GPA as to how they actually didn't properly consult with their players. How they didn't properly present all of the facts and all of the constraints that were contained within this proposal [...] and why this particular proposal was arrived at.

"To send a WhatsApp out to your players three weeks before the vote and then to say the players weren't given a sufficient or meaningful consultation for me is a player welfare issue."

Burns stressed the magnitude of the change to the GAA and what it represented, while again stating that the players should have been given more of a voice in the process. 

"This is the most important change that we have made in our associations's Championship affecting the lives of the players since 1888. I would say it's even bigger than the arrival of the back door system. And the GPA did not consult their players.  

"I'm not into GPA bashing. On an operations level, they do great work. An awful lot of the past pupils in my school are county players and they tell me with regards interview skills and personal development that they are outstanding.

"But dealing with strategy and trying to inform and educate their players, there's been a major weakness identified as a result of that. Then to blame our association for not consulting with players when we paid them to do it, is the biggest insult of all."

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