Friday, April 11, 2008

The grant that never was is approved

The "grants" rigmarole finally come to a close yesterday when the GAA Annual Congress rubber stamped the deal. 

As Peter Quinn said on TV a few weeks ago, the decision-making machinery of the GAA Congress replicates that of the National Congress of the Communist Party of China -- the important decisions are decided before the meeting, so the outcome was no great surprise. Also like the GAA the Chinese also use the occasion to decide leadership changes; review and change, if necessary, the Party's Constitution; and select the Central Council, a powerful decision making body, the authority of which, according to its spokesperson Danny "Sum Ting Wong?" Lynch, should never be questioned. 

Trying to get an accurate account in the GAA annals of how this decision was brought about is going to be very difficult because of the Rashomon effect. Rashomon is a Japanese film which has become "a byword for any situation in which the truth of an event is difficult to verify due to the conflicting accounts of different witnesses". We've seen this time and time again during this debate with many blinkered views [Martin Breheny wins the overall prize for his perverse and twisted interpretation] of what was happening.

In general there are two versions of how the GAA bungled from "grants" to "eligible expenses":

The hey presto, Nicky Brennan, Croke Park and GPA version, which would have you  believe that they knew what they were doing all along-- that it was "rubbish" and "farcical" to argue that the grant was a threat to the GAA's amateur status -- despite the radically rehashed deal emerging from the depths of the GAA's "open and transparent" hierarchy. "Didn't we tell you all along that we wouldn't sign up to any deal with the GPA that would harm the GAA's amateur status?" Then why are all the poor journalists so confused that they still refer to it as a grant?

The other is Joe Brolly's analysis, subsequently endorsed by the DRA:

1. GAA announces grants deal with GPA
2. Of One Belief launch legal challenge to grants/pay for play warning of dangers of EU law
3. GAA retain Alex Schuster, law lecturer at Trinity College and recognized authority on European community law, who  clearly advised them that grants would mean the players were involved in economic activity, which would mean that community law applied 
4. GAA buys time at DRA through technicalities and unavailability of key witnesses
5. GAA junks the original "Grants" scheme and develops the elaborate, complicated, wholly incomprehensible bureaucratic nightmare that is the "eligible expenses" scheme.

Despite the calls that it's time to move on the amateur, shamateur, professional debate is not going to go away. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A little tale that shows how this decision will change attitudes.

I'm secretary of a small club and last week I was speaking to a club member who captains the county senior team.

The word is that the county manager is to make sweeping changes to his panel now that the league is completed, and a number of players - including players from my club - are facing the chop.

"That's just to make sure this grant goes to othes," was the captain's words.

And this is a man who has given all his adult life to playing Gaelic games and has represented his club and county with distinction.

He is a good GAA man, but a line has been crossed and he now associates representing his county with getting money in return.

A line has been crossed and there will be no going back.