Seán Ó Sirideán – ‘Clandestine payments are the scourge of our games’
Those of us who love the GAA and all it stands for are often torn on the one issue that is at the very foundations of which the association was built on. The ethos of the association is that of amateurism and the driving force being the association is the thousands of volunteers at grass roots level. Therefore, setting aside the most important people in the games; the players, should managers and coaches be paid for their services?
I have been speaking to a lot of Gaels lately and the opinion is often mixed, those on the die hard amateur side and those on the more let’s say, modern opinion, when it comes to the GAA. The issue of payment for managers and coaches is quite complex when one looks into the work that goes on at a top flight club or at inter-county level. The sheer professionalism that is required to compete in the modern game is quite mind blowing and something that is forgotten about by many. So, should managers and coaches be paid?
I think only the most naive person would be of the opinion that managers and coaches are not being paid in the modern era. GAA clubs and County boards have been quite smart in their payments; managers are allowed mileage costs and ‘out of pocket’ expenses. This leaves two types of managers and coaches, the rich one and the poor one. How? If you take a look at some of the managers who take charge of a county or club that is not their native club or county, they are not doing it for the love of the jersey.
I cannot name names in this article but let’s just say that there are many high profile names taking charge of counties that are not native to them. These rich journey men managers are typically getting expenses for their mileage and ‘out of pocket’ expenses. Those payments are usually made in a secret fashion and probably stereotypically concealed in a brown paper bag. They’re getting free cars and free mobiles phones, a lot of them couldn’t train a cat to lick cream and unfortunately a lot of clubs and counties just want an outsider in,even an old broken down player with a name who is on £100 to £200 a night. The poor manager is the club man who takes charge of the senior team for the love of the club. He spends a lot of time at training; coaching players, dealing with the difficulties that come along managing a squad of 25 plus men and instead of being reimbursed, he is more than likely going to find himself out of pocket.
Under-the-counter payments to GAA managers around the country have been estimated at a staggering €20 million. This is tax free. When we start talking about that type of figure being doled out to a very small group of individuals then it is quite hard to reconcile our amateur status. In most dressing rooms up and down the country the only people that are not being paid are the players. The video man, fitness men, physios and the manager are all being paid. It’s being done surreptitiously and it is a blemish on the association with managers on £30,000 to £60,000 per year for managing a team. Legalise payments? Let’s not kid ourselves here.
There are some managers at the most mediocre of counties getting at least £1000 a week. Is it not time the GAA took their heads out of the sand and said ‘Yes payments to managers and coaches happen, we accept this and this is the way it is going to happen in future’. At least if it was legalised then this clandestine type of behaviour that goes on in many counties will cease. It is undoubtedly the single biggest blemish on our game. I welcome the GAA’s Director General Paraic Duffy’s discussion document released in January; now let’s see some action from this. An open and frank debate within the association now needs to happen.
I think the GAA have been timid in this issue as they seem to think that if managers and coaches are paid then this will lead to payers demanding money also. But the GAA have to accept that people need to be reimbursed and that this is not a threat to the association’s amateur status.
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