The Gaelic Players Association has contacted county chairpersons and secretaries to ensure all delegates are aware of players' views on the vote to restructure the football championship at its special congress later this month.
The GPA is strongly in favour of Option B – a league-championship format – but the players group feel that proposal, if it doesn’t receive the required 60% margin, will not be revisited in the near future.
In the letter to boards, GPA co-chairs Maria Kinsella and Matt O’Hanlon recalled how, at the most recent GAA central council meeting, the GPA representative Tom Parsons sought to address the proposed motion to change Gaelic football’s structure.
"Tom Parsons requested but was not afforded, the opportunity to reflect the views of the players. Therefore, we are writing to you to outline the position of the vast majority of our members," the letter read.
"Secondly, we feel it is vitally important that people make their views known on this matter. The result will impact the development, growth and commitment of inter-county players and inter-county teams for years to come. We thank those county board and provincial council representatives who have expressed their opinions; that includes those who have taken a different view to us. We respectfully call upon those in the highest positions of GAA leadership, to come behind this grassroots, players supported, movement for change. Although late in the day, there remains time for this to happen."
The GPA also paid tribute to the GAA’s fixture calendar review taskforce.
"Since putting forward their recommended proposals, they have received little support and have been subjected to some ridicule in the national media. On behalf of inter-county players, we want to acknowledge their work and their willingness to listen to the calls for change to the status quo."
The letter continued by detailing the GPA’s extensive consultation with players over the course of the last 12 months, nothing that it had been ramped up considerably in the last eight weeks.
"The Gaelic Players Association are strongly supporting Motion 19 or what is commonly being referred to as Proposal B, the league-based championship. We believe, if this opportunity is missed on the 23rd of October, we might not be presented with such a positive opportunity for change in the years to come."
The GPA outlined fairness, development and the need for change as reasons for supporting Option B.
"Since we have spoken about our support for Proposal B, two concerns consistently have been raised with us – loss of status for the provincial championships and financial projections.
"To those of you concerned about the financial implications of backing Proposal B, we would ask you to seek answers from the powers that be in Croke Park. To us, it makes sense that with significantly more championship games, there will be significantly more money for distribution to counties. Projections developed by Fixture Calendar Review Taskforce member Conor O’Donoghue estimate an additional €10million revenue through the Proposal B structure, including approximately €2.2million extra to provinces. All additional funds are ultimately distributed to counties. Given the financial issues that Covid has wrought, this will bring welcome financial relief to county board officers.
"To those concerned about a downgrading of the provincial championships, we would ask you to consider if this proposal does more damage than the consistent mis-matches we have seen in the provincial competition in recent years? We would also ask you to consider how the provincial championships can now be reinvigorated as a stand-alone round robin competition at a time of the year when supporters will have starved of inter-county games for over six months."
The letter concluded by reiterating that players were asking GAA Special Congress delegates to give the two proposals careful consideration.
"But ultimately, we are asking you to back Proposal B, the league-based championship. We thank you for your time in reading this letter and would welcome any discussion with you on any of the above."