Taxing refs will hinder recruitment cautions Skelly
LEINSTER GAA chairman Martin Skelly has questioned moves by the Revenue Commissioners to tax referees' expenses as income -- just as referees in his own county of Longford moved back from the brink of strike action.
The Longford match officials have agreed to take up their whistles for a series of underage games this weekend, after Croke Park confirmed that referees around the country will continue to be paid their expenses as normal.
But while an uneasy peace has now broken out, the long-term likelihood beyond 2012 is that 'local arrangements' will be ripped up and replaced by a uniform expense rate for all referees.
Against a recent backdrop of refereeing militancy in Wexford and Longford, Skelly has now joined the debate.
In his annual address to Leinster Council, the provincial chief says: "I am not well enough informed at present to make a judgement on the taxation of referees' expenses, but it does seem to be a very tough move by Revenue on a voluntary and amateur group."
He goes on to warn: "It will certainly do nothing to help us enlist new referees, which is a fairly difficult task as it stands."
The saga took a new twist yesterday evening when Croke Park released the following statement: "The GAA can confirm that further talks will take place with Revenue on the procedures for the taxation, if any, of referee match payments.
"In the meantime, the GAA's existing arrangements for payments to referees will apply," the statement added.
No time-frame was mentioned but it's understood any new arrangements for referees at local level will not apply until 2013 at the earliest.
This intervention from the hierarchy follows 'strike' notice served by Longford referees at a meeting on Monday night, and an averted threat by their Wexford counterparts 24 hours earlier.
Longford referees co-ordinator Joe O'Brien has now said they would be guided by yesterday's statement, which gave assurances that existing rates would apply for the time being. As a consequence, a series of underage games in Longford will be covered at the weekend.