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The Professionals

March 11, 2019

When I look at our games and our organisation I can’t help but marvel at it all.

Our athletes are in amazing shape and are some of the most skilful sporting individuals you will find, as brilliant of performers in their fields as the professionals in Real Madrid or Manchester City.

What makes it even more impressive is the fact that they’re amateur, they’re at this peak height of physical conditioning and they do it all for no cash or payment.

A lot of people pose the question of should we pay our athletes for their time, commitment and dedication to our games, and it’s a hard question to answer.

To be honest, I’m split when it comes to this topic of discussion.

There’s a part of me that believes that the dictating lifestyle these individuals lead should be rewarded with more than an All-Ireland Medal, and that’s it you’re an individual that’s lucky enough to get one. 

Now, I’m not talking Alexis Sanchez or Aaron Ramsey wages at up to £500,000 every week, that’s my arse of a craic. No player should earn that.

Perhaps a nice wee tip of £250 every month wouldn’t go amiss for a player.

When we think about the organisation that grabs everything only your coat buttons and your grave at the turnstile, it doesn’t seem like a lot of money, does it?

See here’s the thing, it wouldn’t be up to the organisation to pay the players.

The GAA is the governing body over all GAA affairs.

FIFA is the governing body over all association football (soccer) affairs.

It’s not up to FIFA to pay the players.

The money that Messi earns comes from Barcelona, or the money that Salah earns comes from Liverpool, not FIFA.

Besides that, the GAA are supposedly losing money, and are down 14% on gate receipts last year. 

Quite amazing, 8 extra games to the football Championships and they’re down money.

So what do the association do to combat this this year?

Increase prices, sure why not?

We’re all earning well above the breadline (And Brexit’s non-existent…)

The same would apply here. Dean Rocks wages wouldn’t come from the GAA; they would have to come from the Dublin County Board.  

Let’s use £250 as a hypothetical figure here.

So, the £250 doesn’t have to come out of the associations pocket now, it’s from the respective County Board. 

Say a county panel has 30 players on its championship team, that’s £7,500 a month on player payments, which amounts to £90,00 per annum.

That may not seem like a lot, I’m sure that the likes of the Dubs would be well fit to allocate that, or a figure for each player there or there abouts. 

Think of all the money they get from their main sponsor, AIG (American Insurance Group) who sponsored Manchester United when they were winning Champions Leagues and Premier Leagues like there would be no end to it.

That’s an amazing sponsor for an amateur team to have, and I’m sure that the money they pump into them is quite impressive. 

Dublin have 14 additional partners that will hand over another bit of cash here and there. 

Then, for all their league titles and Championship titles they’d get a nice wee lump from the GAA. 

In 2016, Dublin generated €1,462,529 of commercial revenue alone, never mind the money from sponsors and the association. 

So it’s fair to say that Dublin would be fit to handle wages of £250 per month for their player.

What about Louth, or Leitrim?

How much would they generate from commercial revenue, or even sponsorship? 

Funny, I can’t imagine J.P Clarke’s in New York dishing out the money like AIG would do so with Dublin

Then there’s the topic of payment and wage figures. 

Con O’Callaghan on £250 a month for playing with Dublin and competing in All-Ireland Finals and Ryan O’Rourke getting the exact same for living a fairly easing lifestyle compared to Con, who has to ensure the commitment throughout the entire calendar while O’Rourke only plays for a few months before being put out of the Championship?

That’s if Leitrim can afford to generate £250 for each player every month, and that would be a stretch.

O’Callaghan would feel he’s worth more than that, and look for higher wages.

Perhaps Fenton might follow suit. 

McManus would feel that he’s worth more than the £250 that Monaghan can’t generate for him every month.

That would never work. 

Players would demand major figures exceeding £250 every month, then there’d be players worth nothing.

What comes next?

Transfers?

Possibly. 

With the ability to move clubs based on your residence and employment, a leniency may come to the forefront and allow players to set up camp in Kerry or Dublin and declare them as their county.

But when we look at it all, £250 a month for playing sport and athletes as professional as ours getting £150,000 a week for playing soccer?

It’s shocking small numbers compared to that of what other sports persons around the world get but you have to start somewhere.

It’s still a nice wee donation all the same. 

And then there’s the issue of the actual starting bit.

How far will it go?

Where will it stop?

Will it only create an elitist atmosphere around those teams that’s fit to pay their players the bigger amounts?

Look at the English Leagues. 

In Sky Bet League 2 (the lowest tier of English Football) there are teams like Lincoln, Grimsby Town and Notts County.

Fair enough, I’m sure not too many of you reading will know about these teams, or that they even existed.

They are far from the glitz and glamour of those teams in the Premier League, or even Sky Bet League 1.

The introduction of wages will only make those in the top bands more elite and further away from those in the teams below them.

It’s only going to widen the gap between the all loving association and the little counties that just can’t produce to the standard of their supreme counterparts. 

That’s the next issue.

Even without the wages and professional status of players, that gap continues to widen and gets even wider. 

Long gone are the days when the Association really put time and effort into smaller counties, and that’s due to the overcoming nature of capitalism that drags the Paddy into its grasp…

With funding being distributed to the larger counties (Dublin, Kerry, Mayo, etc.) at an alarming rate, there is little to none being thrown down to those that are not able to bring in as much with sponsorships, revenue or other sources of income that counties may have.

Even though I proposed a structure, a tiered Championship would only add to that gap between the two classes. 

Look at English Football. 

We’re at the stage right now where we’re loosing interest in all the happenings in the lower leagues. 

Leitrim just secured promotion from the fourth division, which is a huge boost for the county.

This is a great achievement for the county and qualifies them to play in Croke Park for the first time since 2006. 

What will they get?

Chances are very little. 

Instead, why don’t we give another 1.6 Million Euro to Dublin again this year, and help them with their development squads and facilities to ensure that the talent keeps coming, the All-Irelands keep coming, and most importantly…

The money keeps coming!

Ca-ching!

For those teams that are already in the leading pack with the facilities, the income, the position and status of a good solid team, perhaps hold back on their funds just slightly. 

I’m not saying cut them in half or remove them, perhaps 10% would be a nice wee number to split to each team promoted from each of the lower divisions.

That amounts to 40,000 for each county based on league performance, which may help them out come the Championship time. 

And there’s still €1,440,000 left over for the Dubs.

If a wage fixture was in place, leading to a transfer market, that’s still enough to lure the best from each county to their squad, ultimately turning them into a conveyor belt of capitalist coercion and never ending financial ruling.

I don’t believe that money should ever be distributed to the players.

At the moment, some and certain players do earn a nice wee sum from individual sponsorships, their name and status. 

However, that’s not coming from the Association or their county boards.

So, should that payment be suspended too?

Should players be banned from earning off their name within the Association and the sport?

It’s hard to know, and time will tell, as we are nearing an elitist and money obsessed industry.

But don’t forget to give the Dubs another 1.4 Million.

Don’t short hand them whatever you do…

By Barry McAllister

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