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Saturday 10 December 2016

'Deal is a win-win for GPA and GAA' - Dessie

€6.2m deal is a major financial leap forward for players - and 'significant' for Croker too

Pictured at the announcement of the GAA and GPA framework agreement 2017-2019 were (back, l-r) Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael Aogán Ó Fearghail, GPA Chairman Séamus Hickey (front, l-r) GPA CEO Dessie Farrell and GAA Ard Stiúrthóir Páraic Duffy. Picture Credit: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Pictured at the announcement of the GAA and GPA framework agreement 2017-2019 were (back, l-r) Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael Aogán Ó Fearghail, GPA Chairman Séamus Hickey (front, l-r) GPA CEO Dessie Farrell and GAA Ard Stiúrthóir Páraic Duffy. Picture Credit: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Dessie Farrell has hailed the new three-year deal struck by Croke Park and the Gaelic Players Association as "good news" for its members - and the figures back up his claim.

Under the GAA/GPA framework agreement, covering 2017/19, an estimated €6.2 million per year will be made available to the players' body (for its core activities) and to county players, past and present, by way of increased expenses and surgery costs.

"I think it's a good day for players, without doubt," said GPA chief executive Farrell at yesterday's Croke Park announcement of the deal.

"It elevates the players' status to a new level. There's a lot of practical support contained within this, and very important is the input into policy decisions that affect players - that will be widely welcomed.

"Then, obviously, the GAA's commercial success will be linked to our programmes - a significant step forward and a milestone. So, all told, players will be very happy with this.

Significant

"But we also think it's a significant deal for the GAA," Farrell continued. "It reflects the ongoing relationship that has been in place for the last number of years which has given us a platform to build a partnership and work in tandem on issues that are important not just for the players but for the games themselves. Ultimately it's a win-win for everybody, we feel."

No matter how you break down the allocations, it's a major financial leap forward. The GPA received €2m in core funding from the GAA in 2015, the last year of its original five-year recognition protocol of 2011, which was then replaced by this year's interim arrangement as negotiations on a new deal took place.

Now, from 2017, it will receive an annual €2.5m or 15pc of the GAA's net central commercial revenue, whichever is higher, in core funding towards the provision of its welfare/development services. Commercial revenue covers media rights, sponsorship, franchising and licencing but excludes gate receipts (still the GAA's chief revenue resource). Last year's figure for commercial revenue was €18.2m so, if you do the maths, 15pc equates to €2.73m.

But the real benefits of this deal can be gleaned from the new financial supports on offer. The long-standing 50c mileage rate for inter-county players is rising to between 62.5c and 65c per mile - to a maximum total extra cost of €1.5m. This will now be covered by central coffers, with county boards continuing to pay the first 50c per mile.

Players, for the first time, can also claim vouched nutrition expenses, with €1.2m allocated to cover this relatively new financial burden.

As GPA chairman (and Limerick hurler) Séamus Hickey explained: "This is a wide-ranging and relatively new aspect of the game, especially since I was first involved in 2006. It is an element of preparation that we never had to engage with before.

"We did case studies with a number of players but - and I suppose the GAA will acknowledge this - this is a contribution to it, not necessarily a complete reimbursement."

Physically crocked veterans will also appreciate the €200,000 set aside each year to deal with surgical interventions for former county players, while the GAA has also guaranteed an additional €800,000 that will go towards the GPA's player services.

Forum

It's not all about the money, either: there is a commitment to improve input from county players into matters of GAA policy. The GPA will be allowed a second delegate to Congress (in addition to its Central Council representative) and entitled to submit one motion to Congress annually; but a more intriguing development will the the creation of a policy forum to discuss "issues of concern and relevance to the GPA".

That forum will comprise GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghail and director-general Páraic Duffy (who both welcomed the new deal yesterday) and, from the GPA, Farrell and Hickey.

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