Martin McHugh has described the GAA’s proposal for restructuring the football Championship as “disappointing” and argues it still doesn’t address the biggest issue which remains the provincial Championships.
The proposal includes adding a group stage to a condensed competition which, Croke Park claim, will aid the club championships.
Provincial and qualifier stages would run unchanged - although replays are to be outright abolished, while the scrapping of the League semi-finals would mean six additional games in the calendar year.
The 1992 All-Ireland winner says the proposal will do little for the club game and is still unfair on Ulster teams.
“It’s disappointing,” he told RTÉ Sport.
“I can’t understand why we don’t sensibly sit down and address it. The proposal done up is to try and work around the problem and the problem in the provincial Championships.
"They should be scrapped and done away with.
“The system is not fair. If the proposal was in place this season, Donegal would have to win 11 games to win the All-Ireland, Kerry would have seven.
“All teams should have an equal chance of winning an All-Ireland.”
McHugh advocates four groups of eight and ending the provincial Championship so that all sides are guaranteed the same amount of games and dismisses the GAA’s claim that it will help address club versus county issues.
"The GAA are forgetting about 98pc of the GAA population, club people," he insisted.
"The proposal will definitely help the GAA financially...It will leave them in a better position to sell TV packages."
“I just hope the decision wasn’t made based on money.”
Former All-Ireland winner with Meath Bernard Flynn has welcomed the “intriguing” proposal, but like McHugh, believes a Champions League style format would better serve the game.
“Something had to be done, but it’s not radical,” he said. “If there is an appetite [for the new restructuring], it will show us exactly the format going forward.
“I’d like to see four groups of eight, Champions League style and I believe this will happen down the line.”
Flynn argues that particular format would address the growing number of players leaving to play elsewhere in the summer months.
"The current structure is not going to keep brilliant footballers at home for one or two games a year. They will head to America where there are some huge deals on offer.
"More games could make a difference."
Two-time All Star Flynn expects the proposal to pass through Congress as “the game was headed for being on its knees”, but sees an unfair advantage in the proposed group stage if Dublin are involved.
The eight teams will play in two groups, with each team enjoying a home game, an away game and one game in Croke Park. This would in theory give Dublin an added advantage of two home games.
“If Dublin reach the last eight, there should be a flick of the coin for the Croke Park encounter. They shouldn’t automatically have home advantage, which in Croke is a huge advantage,” he said.
The proposals will be discussed at the next meeting of Central Council and if passed, will be put to Congress next year.
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