GAELIC Life can exclusively reveal the three broad proposals from the Calender Review Task Force which will be received by GAA Management Committee tomorrow night (Friday) after months of debate and discussion.
The Task Force, which was established by GAA president John Horan, was tasked with considering significant issues affecting the GAA fixtures calendar, including the scheduling and structure of inter-county competitions and the time available for clubs.
It met for the first time on June 20, but recent meetings have been described as ‘tetchy’ by a source within the committee, and it emerged earlier in the week that the CPA (Club Players’ Association) had withdrawn with the complaint that the group was a “Trojan Horse, designed to give cover to the GAA authorities to ratify the status quo.”
The CPA statement said that their own particular plans for the GAA calendar were “not entertained” by the task force, but we can reveal that there are two fairly radical proposals alongside one rather more conservative option.
The conservative option is basically an extension of the current April-only month so that it would carry on a further three weeks into May. The fear is that this would be a retreat to the old calendar year where the All-Ireland Hurling and Football finals were played in their traditional September slot.
The second option would represent a bigger divergence from the current format. The provinces would be tinkered with so that the eventual outcome is four provinces of eight teams which are then split into groups.
The top team in each group would progress to the provincial final, the second and third-placed teams go into the qualifiers, and the bottom team in each group is relegated into a Tier 2 competition.
This would mean that, in theory, the All-Ireland competition would be wrapped up by the third week of August, allowing the club championships to get underway.
Gaelic Life can also reveal that within the task force, there’s a desire to eventually move away from the current provincial format but that a gradual change at first would be the best way to go about this.
The third and final option would kill off the Allianz National League and mean that the provincial system remaining as it is but being played during the first three months of the year.
Meanwhile, the All-Ireland Championship would move to a group format and be played during the height of the summer with group positions determining whether teams progress to the All-Ireland knock-out series, or whether they slip into the qualifiers or a tier two championship.
The fear is that the GAA will shoot down the proposals, while the introduction of a Tier Two competition has been a crushing blow to the authority of the Task Force.
Also, there is unhappiness at the wheeling and dealing behind the scenes at Congress after a CPA motion to provide greater transparency in voting at GAA congress was heavily defeated last year.