Press Release Thursday 29th November 2007
I welcome the agreement that has now been reached between my Department, the Irish Sports Council, the Gaelic Athletic Association and the Gaelic Players Association to recognise the outstanding contribution of Gaelic Senior Inter-County players to our indigenous sport by introducing schemes designed to meet additional costs and expenses associated with elite team performance and to encourage aspiring teams and players to reach the highest levels of sporting endeavour.
This issue has been debated and discussed for several years and as the Minister with responsibility for sport I took the view that it was important to end the continuing uncertainty and to bring finality to it. Having met individually with all parties involved I arranged in recent weeks for all sides to come together for a series of meetings with a view to reaching a satisfactory resolution.
I consider the agreement now reached to be equitable and sensible all round. It is structured in such a way as to meet additional costs and expenses associated with enhancing the performance of Senior Inter-County teams and players, while in return involving the players in a number of social responsibilities, including working in close co-operation with the Local Sports Partnerships on a programme of visits to schools and youth facilities as part of an overall policy to increase participation in their sports.
The schemes will be funded through the Irish Sports Council, which currently operates and funds from a budget this year of more than €54 million, several large schemes that support enhancing sports performances and promoting increased participation in sport. The Sports Council budget for the schemes under this agreement will be €3.5 million.
I would like to thank all involved in bringing about this resolution and settlement. I now look forward to the Irish Sports Council, the G.A.A. and the G.P.A. agreeing the criteria and implementation arrangements for the new schemes.
Note: Additional details below on how the scheme will operate
Agreement between the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism and the Irish Sports Council, GAA and GPA to recognise the contribution of Senior Inter-County Players and additional costs associated with enhancing team performance
Our Senior Inter-County players provide the window through which our National Games are viewed nationally and internationally. It is recognised that the successful teams prepare and train to the highest international standards for team sports and that the current scheme of tax relief for professional sports people cannot be applied to Gaelic players because of their amateur status. The Minister therefore, via the Irish Sports Council, in consultation with the GAA and the GPA, intends to introduce schemes to recognise the outstanding contribution of Gaelic Inter-County players to our indigenous sport, to meet additional costs associated with elite team performance and to encourage aspiring teams and players to reach the highest levels of sporting endeavour. These schemes will be based specifically on Championship participation, the GAA’s blue riband competitions, commencing at the end of the National Leagues, and will operate as follows:
Annual Team Performance Scheme
The Annual Team Performance Scheme will be based on the performance of teams during the championships and will apply to the 12 Gaelic football teams qualifying for the third round of the All-Ireland Qualifier series or reaching a Provincial Final, and the 12 hurling teams participating in the McCarthy Cup. The level of award available to teams will be calculated on a sliding scale increasing with continuing involvement in the Championships.
Annual Support Scheme for the Development of Excellence in the Indigenous Sports of Hurling and Gaelic football
The Annual Support Scheme for the Development of Excellence will be based on the achievement of standards and performance-based criteria designed to raise/maintain the levels of preparation and skill of the teams and individuals not qualifying for the Team Performance Scheme. The GAA, the GPA and the Irish Sports Council will agree a set of standards and performance based criteria for counties and their senior team squads eliminated in the first two rounds of the All-Ireland Football Qualifiers, and those participating in the Tommy Murphy Cup, the Christy Ring and Nicky Rackard Cups. Recognising that the achievement of excellence necessitates increased sacrifice and effort by counties and individuals, this scheme will assist them in achieving/maintaining the required standards. Support will not be made available to individuals or squads that fail to meet minimum standards.
An amount of €3.5m will be provided in 2008 to fund these schemes.
Criteria for participation in these Schemes
County committees, team management and players representatives in participating counties will develop improvement plans with measurable goals and objectives, agreed with the ISC, and consistent with national GAA coaching and games development policy. The supports will be based on the following criteria:
County Committee Responsibilities
À Establish and agree key performance indicators with team management. This will involve identifying squad targets and objectives, formulating an appropriate training regime/plan, establishing a code of conduct to which all parties give agreement and the provision of comprehensive information and advice on the anti-doping code. These indicators, objectives and requirements will be incorporated in the proposed Charter for inter county teams and County Committees.
À Provision, as appropriate, of qualified personnel to enhance player/team development. This to include advice and support in all aspects of team and individual fitness, nutrition, health and well-being associated with playing the games.
À A system to take account of players joining or departing from the county squad will be agreed.
À Ensure the presence of certified medical personnel at all inter-county games.
À Attend at least 80% of all training sessions/matches. This commitment will also apply to injured/rehab personnel except where excused.
À Demonstrate improvement through regular fitness testing.
À Keep updated training log/diary.
À Strict adherence to anti-doping code.
À Players who violate the code will not receive awards
À Injured players will be expected to meet a set of agreed minimum requirements to demonstrate that they are participating satisfactorily in the rehabilitation process in order to receive an award.
À Players will commit to participate in an agreed level of coaching and games development work in their county on a voluntary basis. In co-operation with the Local Sports Partnerships players will visit schools and youth facilities as part of an overall policy to promote increased participation in their sports.
À Players will involve themselves in initiatives at county and national level to promote their sports as a healthy activity for all ages.
À Any Inter County Squad or Player may decline the amount.
1 Funding for the above schemes will be provided annually through the Irish Sports Council to the GAA and the criteria and arrangements for their disbursement will be agreed by the GAA, the GPA and the ISC.
2 These schemes will be additional to, and will not negatively impact on, existing funding or any future funding, provided by the Government to the GAA through the ISC.
3 All parties recognise the amateur status of the GAA and nothing in this agreement will undermine that amateur status.
4 The schemes will be administered by a National Committee with player/administrative representatives of the GAA and GPA. Committees to administer the schemes at county level will also be established.
5 Dispute resolution will be carried out by the National Committee whose decisions will be final.
6 This agreement applies to senior inter-county football and hurling panels only. Funding will be based on panels to a maximum of 30 players.
7 Any tax liability that might arise from these schemes is the responsibility of the individual player.
8 Player welfare is a separate issue for which the GAA takes full responsibility.
9 The schemes will be subject to a tri-annual independent review to be carried out under the aegis of the ISC.