Croke Park chiefs agree injured players should not be out of pocket due to lost earnings

Anxious clubs await news from headquarters about two schemes, a personal injury policy for a set fee and a hike in premiums to cover annual loss in claims
Croke Park chiefs agree injured players should not be out of pocket due to lost earnings

Cork Central Council delegate Tracey Kennedy told a recent county board meeting that Croke  Park officials recognise that it is a serious issue for clubs. Picture: Jim Coughlan

CROKE PARK are looking at two options to resolve the thorny issue over the loss of wages to injured players.

One is a personal injury policy for a set fee which would cover loss of wages and some additional injury benefit.

And the second is a 25 per cent premium increase for all units to cover the annual loss of €1.3m in claims.

This was reported to delegates at a recent county board meeting by Central Council representative Tracey Kennedy on foot of a Cork backlash to the withdrawal of cover.

Angry club delegates had voiced grave concerns at the prospect of players walking away from hurling and football, particularly those self-employed, because of the absence of any policy.

“There was a lengthy discussion. I think a lot of counties and clubs hadn’t spotted the implications,” Kennedy said.

“There was definitely a recognition from the leadership of the association that this is a serious issue for clubs.

“We asked that these suggestions would be refined for discussions with clubs and this was agreed to being the next step.”

Since Cork raised initial concerns, there has been widespread questioning of Croke Park across the country.

Liam Kenny (Kilworth) urged delegates not to rest on their laurels.

“I’ve no doubt we are lobbying and we are talking, but I don’t want a scenario of ‘Nero fiddles while Rome burns’ here,” he said.

“Clubs could be doing more to drive this and that’s what I’m worried about.

“I repeat this is a massive problem for players and clubs and we have a duty of care to our players.”

CEO/Sec Kevin O’Donovan assured delegates the message was getting through to headquarters.

“All lobbying being done by us is being passed on to Croke Park, where we’re having direct conversations with officials there,” he said.

“I know there is a concern here that we should be making our voices louder, but, have no doubt, it has registered with Croke Park and it is being considered currently.”

Chairman Marc Sheehan said it was an ongoing issue and he hoped for a resolution in the not too distant future.

“It is hugely significant and I don’t think the association is underestimating its significance,” he said.

John O’Flynn (Freemount) delegate, who is an accountant, urged Croke Park to go back and look at their numbers during his detailed contribution.

“When you look at the audited accounts, they don’t support the reasons why there was a pause in the loss of wages,” he said.

“I don’t believe there was a loss on the fund from last year based on the audited accounts.

“If there was a loss, then the audited accounts are incorrect. This needs to be looked at in a lot more detail.

“The reasons for the decision by the GAA not to cover loss of wages for the coming year were on the basis that the claims in 2020 were similar to the claims in 2019.

“And that there was a loss of in 2020 of about €2m, similar to other years, where the GAA covered the actual shortfall.

“I am in correspondence with Ger Mulryan in Croke Park and their basis for arguing that the actual insurance costs for 2020 were similar to 2019 was on a cash basis.

“But, from an accounting viewpoint, you have to look at it on an accounts basis and an accruals basis.

“And when you look at the accounts presented at Congress, the actual insurance claim is €2m less in 2020 than it was in 2019.

“And that’s what you would expect because the level of activity in 2020 was much less than 2019.

“Also the suggestion there was a loss of €2m in 2020, and that is actually mentioned in the Central Council report for March, but when you look at the accounts, there is a loss of €934,000.

“When I delved into the accounts with Ger Mulryan’s assistants, the loss of €934,000 arises because €1m of the €6m paid by clubs in 2020 was allocated to the first three months in 2021 as it was decided to extend the 2020 insurance year.”

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