THE GAA HAVE rejected the idea that the decision to postpone the return of inter-county action was financially motivated.
Speaking at the launch of the GAA’s annual report, director general Tom Ryan pointed out that the National Leagues are not major financial earners for Croke Park.
“The league in itself doesn’t really have a huge bearing on finances one way or the other,” he said.
“Most of the league got played [in 2020] but it’s not enough to make significant inroads income wise to the Association. Likewise, it doesn’t have a huge bearing on costs either.
“What happens hopefully over the next couple of months league-wise, is by and large cost neutral.”
While it reduces the costs of preparing county teams, Ryan says there are drawbacks in terms of profile and commercial opportunities.
“Most importantly,” he added, “long-term you lose a connection with the people we are very dependent upon to keep the association safe, in all respects, not just financially.”
“The course we mapped through last year, the finances were so bad so early on and looking so bad that we just tried our best to park that and compartmentalise that to one side.
“And thereafter try to do the best we could from a game promotion and calendar and playing point of view, and that’s the same as we are doing this year.”
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Ryan is hopeful a small number of supporters may be allowed attend some inter-county games later this year, but unsurprisingly ruled out the prospect of a full house for All-Ireland final day.
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“I’ve no particular expertise or insight over anybody else so all I’m giving you is a lay view of things. I would like to think we will have [fans at games]. I don’t think we will have grounds at full capacity, it’s hard to see anything anywhere near that.
“You remember last year there was a brief period when we were allowed to have a few hundred people at club matches. That’s hopefully within the scope of the country to deliver and for us to implement. I don’t foresee 80,000 at an All-Ireland final.”
He also said that the GAA won’t rush back into games and training, noting the spike in injuries claims despite the truncated season in 2020
“We saw that manifested in, unbelievably even though the playing season was shorter and more truncated we actually had more player injuries last year than the previous year.
This included “more injury claims and so on. There’s an argument for when we get the green light we’ll still be careful and we’ll still be cautious about it, because what that will mean is a huge burden of responsibility on us to make sure we do the thing right.”