Different stakeholders don’t have to like each other but it helps. It was clear yesterday from statements from first the Club Players Association and then the GAA that whatever relationship the two had was at breaking point over the CPA’s late withdrawal from the Fixtures Review Group and subsequent dismissal of what has been a detailed five-month process.

The Association has been involved in the process since being invited to take part and attending the first meeting back in June.

It appears they have been unhappy with the process from the start though this was not clearly apparent until yesterday’s statement.

“The task force spent the first couple of months hearing submissions from other groups, without ever getting into meaningful discussions on them,” said the statement.

“The submissions had real merit and were deserving of proper consideration. Taskforce members were then sent an email on 1 August, suggesting three ‘broad options’ for consideration.”

“In the same email, the members were asked to review the submissions from the general public. Despite our best efforts, the three ‘broad options’ suggested on 1 August dominated subsequent discussions. This not only made a mockery of asking the public for their opinion, but it also contradicted the notion that ‘everything was on the table’.”

Trojan Horse

“Our contention is that the task force is a ‘Trojan horse’, designed to give cover to the GAA authorities to ratify the status quo while having the appearance of consultation and thoughtful deliberation.”

That suggests a very Machiavellian purpose for an organisation which is based on volunteers giving of their time.

The Club Players Association is suggesting that the Fixtures Review Group is merely window dressing to get cover for introducing a second-tier Football Championship.

If that was the case it could have been done without the time and effort that has been made to listen.

Any process of discovery and negotiation requires give and take on the part of all who enter into the process. That’s the basis for democracy and the GAA was very open in the makeup of the Fixtures group and inviting everyone to the table.

This has been thrown back in their face now with the CPA statement finishing off that “(we) will not be an accomplice to the entrenchment of the status quo.”


It then goes on the attack again saying that “The membership has been inundated with rhetoric in 2019 of ‘Where We All Belong’ at the same time as our association is fast becoming an organisation who no longer prioritises the association as a community-based Gaelic Games and culture organisation with the club and the club player at its core.”

“Unfortunately, there is a clear and growing disconnect between the leadership of the GAA and their grassroots members.”

“The reality is one of the players voting with their feet and deciding that they do not all belong with their clubs and their teammates. The task force will report in due course and players, members, coaches and administrators can decide for themselves if the results and the proposals are the best that the GAA can come up with for the future of our games. We in the CPA strongly believe this not to be the case.”

We have been in enough situations when a discussion breaks down and one side, generally one that has not got its way against the majority, decides to pick up the ball and go home.

First of all, there is a shaking of the head. Then there is anger that they have decided to walk away. Then you have to explain why it is that the majority decision to act in a particular way was the right one at the time.

The GAA leadership will have played around with a variety of responses before issuing this statement late in the day yesterday.

GAA Statement

“The GAA is surprised and disappointed at the decision of the CPA to withdraw its representative Michael Higgins from the Fixture Calendar Review Task Force particularly at such an advanced stage and given that the work of the Task Force is nearing its completion.”

“The group met for the first time on June 20 and consulted widely. It is understood that the Task Force analysed submissions, proposals and comments across a wide range of issues as outlined in their Terms of Reference.”

“The Task Force was expected to develop proposals in a balanced way recognising and respecting the sometimes conflicting views and needs of the various stakeholders involved and the many individuals and groups that it consulted.”

“It is understood that the CPA have been represented at all meetings of the Task Force and that they have fully engaged throughout.”

“The work of the Task Force continues and will be completed later this month. At that stage, any proposals brought forward will be considered and decisions taken by the broader Association on the appropriate next steps.”

Cold Light

It is generally the case that conflicting views are needed through a decision making process so that the views of the majority can be questioned and tested. In a good environment that is part of what shapes the final decision.

Walking away when the finish is in sight because you don’t feel that your perspective has been given the right weight is, of course, the prerogative of the individual. It doesn’t tend to reflect well though in the cold light of day when everyone else has been making their best efforts.

Casting the GAA leadership as uncaring and serving some nebulous purpose of treating the whole wide range of Gaelic Games as their personal fiefdom is demeaning more to those making the accusation than to those on the receiving end.

Image credits, Inpho.ie