Farrell: Players support pay for managers
THE Gaelic Players Association has joined the debate sparked by Paraic Duffy's groundbreaking discussion document on that perennial conundrum for the GAA -- should its managers be paid?
The GPA has come out strongly in favour of the third option put forward by the GAA's director-general, namely introducing a "system of regulated payments" to senior inter-county managers.
GAA traditionalists will be aghast at this prospect, mindful of the association's reputation -- albeit often self-promulgated -- as the so-called greatest amateur sport in the world.
But GPA chief executive Dessie Farrell countered that senior county bosses should be rewarded for their "unique contribution" to specific teams and to the wider promotion of football and hurling.
Farrell also cites a two-year-old GPA survey to argue that paying inter-county managers would not give rise to an increased clamour among the playing population for similar remuneration.
In his long-awaited discussion document -- finally released for public consumption and first reported in yesterday's Evening Herald -- Duffy spells out three options to address the unregulated payment of managers.
One is a continuation of the current policy -- "doing nothing" in the words of Duffy, who makes it explicit that he doesn't favour this option of "knowingly ignoring the problem".
Of his two remaining options -- either full implementation of the GAA's amateur policy regarding managers, or the introduction of closely regulated payments to senior county managers only -- the Monaghan official maintains that he isn't advocating one over the other.
In his voluntary role as Dublin minor football manager, Dessie Farrell obviously wouldn't qualify for any such payment; nor would the multitude of 'outside' club coaches allegedly making unregulated profit from the game.
But wearing his GPA hat, Farrell told the Evening Herald: "We submitted a paper to Croke Park outlining our views on the matter. That document was based on a survey of our membership in late 2009/early 2010.
"We asked players, firstly, do they have an issue with managers being paid? Just under 70 percent said no.
"We then asked the question, if managers were paid, would it be likely to force you as a player to look for remuneration yourself? It was close to 75 percent who said no, it didn't.
"We were satisfied that the issue of managers being paid wasn't a problem for our members, nor was it going to lead to any issues with them down the line," he explained.
The former Dublin star went on: "We felt it would be better for the association if managers were paid, because it would remove this constant issue from the agenda.
"We recognise the unique contribution that managers are making. It has also been forgotten in the recent discourse that managers are making a huge contribution to the promotion of our games."
As for the practicalities, the GPA reasons that managers should be paid for services rendered as opposed to becoming 'employees' of their respective county boards.
"We advocated that managers should be treated similarly to the support personnel that are there already -- that they could be remunerated on a regulated scale for the services they provide to the county board," Farrell outlined.
"Why should they be viewed any differently, particularly as they have the most responsible job? However, we don't envisage that they would become employees, so the county board wouldn't be encumbered with an employment situation -- employer's PAYE, holiday pay, sick pay, pension and so on.
"As part of this arrangement, we also favoured a proper review structure for a manager's position. We have to follow best practice in this regard."
Farrell then sounded a warning note about players' welfare in this new arrangement, stating: "We need to be cautious about the professional relationship between manager and county board, and the amateur player in the middle of it.
"However, the GPA believes that this can be addressed through the current charter. We advocate that squads meet among themselves and with the manager, and then the GPA representatives meet with the county board to put in place a plan for the season ahead.
"We are talking about communication structures. It's a big operation and can be an expensive operation to run a county team, but that is the price of success in the modern game.
"There are no short cuts to success -- players are often reminded of this in relation to their own preparation," the GPA chief reminded.
"The same applies to the support structures. However, through proper planning and communication, the vision and objectives for the year can be identified and then you must look at what supports are required to deliver this vision and the costs involved. The more structured it is, the less likely you are to have problems arising during the year between the parties."