GAA President John Horan, centre, with Fergal McGill, Director of Player, Club and Games Administration, left, and Eddie Sullivan, Fixtures Calendar Review Taskforce Chairman
New formats for the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship, radical changes to U20 and Minor football competitions and oversight committees to ensure clubs have more access to county players are among the eye catching recommendations of the GAA’s Fixtures Calendar Review Taskforce which was issued on Wednesday.
The GAA has published the report of the Fixtures Calendar Review Taskforce with a series of 32 recommendations for the Association which would impact across all levels of club and inter-county competition.
Launched by GAA President John Horan in Croke Park on Wednesday, the report of the Fixtures Calendar Review Taskforce is sure to command the attention of the gaelic games world for the coming weeks and months as it’s far reaching recommendations are debated.
One of the key recommendations is the creation of a new Oversight Unit that would see four full-time Fixtures Analysts appointed (one in each province) who would assist Counties in planning Club Fixture programmes, helping to ensure clubs had more access to their county players, that all available dates to play club games with county players are utilised and would have the power to impose sanctions on Counties for breaches of rule.
You can read the full Fixtures Calendar Review Taskforce HERE.
In terms of the inter-county calendar, the report suggests it can be condensed further by playing the All-Ireland senior hurling and football finals on consecutive weekends to increase the time available in the current spring-time club window as well as increasing the time available post the inter-county championships for club activity.
In relation to the All-Ireland senior football championship, there are two possible formats presented, which each have two options in terms of their schedule in the calendar and how they could facilitate club games.
Format 1 – Four provincial football championship competitions each consisting of eight teams, split into two groups of four, and seeded based on Allianz League positions and playing in a round robin format. Final league positions would determine the movement of counties into the required four eights.
Format 2 - Repositioning of the Allianz Football League to the Summer months as a basis for the Championship and playing Provincial Competitions in the February/March period. The League would then determine the pathway for counties to qualify for All-Ireland SFC quarter-finals.
The report also looks at the implications of retaining the present Football Championship structures while simultaneously taking action to improve the overall balance between the time currently available for club and inter-county games.
All of these formats also cater for a Tier 2 Football Championship.
The report is in favour of the current All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship format and recommends that the Hurling Development Committee examines the potential and impact of increasing the Munster and Leinster groups from five up to six teams.
The recommendations have the potential to triple the number of club-only fixture weekends in the April-October period compared to 2015 when the GAA embarked on its current programme of tightening the inter-county schedule.
Also among the list of recommendations are proposals in favour of:
• Including the Galway senior hurling club champions in the Munster or Leinster club hurling championship
• Staging U20 hurling and football championships as national competitions without provincial championships
• Designating U17 inter-county level a developmental grade
• Finishing the Sigerson and Fitzgibbon Cups earlier
• Finishing All-Ireland Post Primary A and B schools finals earlier and abolishing All-Ireland finals at C and D grades
• Abolishing the All-Ireland junior football championship
Following the completion of the report, it will now go out to counties and clubs for debate.
The report will be presented to Central Council in January, after which it is intended for there to be a series of regional seminars around the country with clubs from every county invited to have a representative present to engage and provide feedback.
It is envisaged that a number of motions will be on the Clár of the 2020 Annual Congress at the end of February, with the remainder being tabled at a Special Congress which will be held later next year.
If adopted, the new recommendations would be in place for the 2021 season.