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Club Players Association gagged by the GAA, claims Micheal Briody

By Declan Bogue

The Club Players Association has lashed out at the GAA, after President of the Association Aoghan ÓFearghail denied them the opportunity to address this weekend's Congress at Croke Park.

Seeking to have their say on Central Council proposals to rejig the football Championship - including quarter-final group stages - chairman of the CPA Micheal Briody warned: "In effect, the proposals will create an elite 'Super 8' of counties, and it does nothing for the plight of the club player in those counties."

Briody also reserved some scorn for RTÉ's Sunday night league highlights show - League Sunday - which argued for the Central Council proposals.

"On Sunday night players watched as the Sunday Game blatantly promoted one side of the problem. The fact that RTE are a sponsor of the Championship and therefore had a conflicted interest wasn't lost on our members as RTE licence payers," he said.

The Chairman of the Club Players Association, which has gathered over 20,000 members since their official launch last month, has spoken out after the GAA denied them official speaking rights at this weekend’s GAA Congress at Croke Park.

Micheál Briody of the players group has stated: “We wrote to the President (Aogan ÓFearghail) as required under rule 3.35 to formally request the right to speak at Congress on behalf of over 20,000 members.

“He has replied denying us the opportunity to speak stating it would be inappropriate.”

He continued: “The Uachtarán in doing this has ignored the will of more than 20,000 CPA players. This was not unexpected, it is disappointing, but it doesn’t change our single minded approach in representing all our members. This isn’t about granting us speaking access. It’s about fixing fixtures.”

The CPA had previously signalled their intention to ask for official representation from Congress. Motions from the Tipperary and Wexford boards will propose their official recognition.

They wished to use speaking privileges — which have been used to support motions from Central Council, most notably the Football Review Committee’s introduction of the black card in 2013 — to publicise their opposition to Director-General Páraic Duffy’s proposals to change the football Championship.

Those proposals, which include moving the dates of the All-Ireland football and hurling finals, along with an introduction of group stages at the quarter-finals, are expected to pass.

In a previous statement, the CPA urged the GAA to ‘park’ their proposals so that they could involve themselves in discussions on how best to plot a way forward with an overall fixtures schedule.

Frustrated by what they see as a lack of opportunity to have their voice heard in an official capacity, Briody has called on delegates to Congress to, “Stand up for the grassroots of the GAA and reject this proposal in favour of a real and meaningful consultation with all stakeholders”.

He added: “Players throughout the country have watched in growing frustration and increasing anger as their views have been systematically ignored. We have met Páraic and asked the question repeatedly, ‘if not now, when will the GAA address the issue of club players and the fixtures programme?’ There has been nothing forthcoming for the club player.”

Belfast Telegraph


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