ALMOST 12 years after it was formed and following more than a decade of agitation, the GPA will be formally recognised on February 12 by the Central Council after yesterday's announcement of a five-year deal with the GAA.
The agreement, which will see the GAA provide more than €8.5m in funding to the players' body over the next five years, will go in front of Central Council delegates on that date and GAA president Christy Cooney has predicted that ratification is likely to be inevitable.
"Having gone through what we went through last year, Central Council having sanctioned it, (and) Congress having made the decision they made, I'd be surprised (if it wasn't passed)," said Cooney.
The agreement will trigger an initial base funding of €1.5m for the GPA for this year and that figure will rise to a maximum of €2m in 2015, though there is a mechanism in place to increase or decrease that amount in conjunction with GAA annual income.
All GPA expenditure will be monitored on a quarterly basis, while existing commercial sponsorships will be phased out and a joint committee assigned to hatch new commercial arrangements from which revenue will be split evenly between the players' body and Croke Park.
In addition, a disputes resolution agreement has been arranged, putting a system in place to mediate internal conflicts within inter-county squads.
"I think the counties would welcome the comprehensive agreement and have a clear understanding of what's in it," added Cooney.
Cooney also defended the level of direct funding from Croke Park, pointing to the relatively small cash-per-player ratio.
"If you take it that there are 2,000 inter-county players and take the €2m figure in 2015, that's €1,000 per player annually," he said. "That's not massive."
GPA chief Dessie Farrell said that despite the deal, the player body's independence remained intact and added that it would stay in Drumcondra.