Author Topic: The cost of running club teams - you can't just measure it in pounds and pence  (Read 985 times)

APM

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 129
    • View Profile
I am fascinated by the ongoing club versus county debate that has developed into the greatest faultline in the GAA.  We have had the emergence of the CPA to highlight (rightly) how club football is disadvantaged by the county scene, with championship fixtures in successful counties condensed into a short window either in the early autumn and possibly the spring time.  We have pundits regularly ridiculing the "crazy" training regimes of inter-county teams and the seeming relentless drive towards professionalism and elitism.  The comparison is often made with the club, the lifeblood of the GAA, which is seen as a paragon of virtue. 

I would agree with a lot of what is said on this topic, but is it not time we took a more critical look at what is going on at club level?  How many clubs can you name in your own area that don't engage an outside manager / coach or both? Very few I imagine and I'd wager a good number are being paid. 

There is a cost to all of this beyond the invoice at the end of the month!  A paid coach needs to demonstrate success, so will demand more from the players.  Yes, a more structured training environment is certainly desirable; but many of these paid 'coaches' are complete charlatans.  How many are in it for the right reasons and prioritise the welfare of the player instead of their own bank balance (more training sessions means a bigger weekly fee) or reputation? Does paying a coach guarantee success? No, of course not - only one team can win any competition in a given year. This is a zero sum game and a rat race.

Moreover, it is worth looking at the cost of running club teams generally.  How much money is being spent by clubs on outside gyms and winter training facilities.  Consider the cost of physios to GAA clubs.  Do clubs need a physio at every game, when most physio work is either involved in rehab or prevention. 

And then you ask the question, where does this money come from?  It comes out of the community, through fundraising, selling tickets and running events.  It certainly isn't funded and cannot be justified by gate receipts at games for the vast majority of teams.  What's the opportunity cost of this expenditure?  Could it be spent better at underage level? Could it be spent better on facilities?  Is it all needed and could we do with less?

The bottom line is that the GAA needs to look very very carefully at this and stop ignoring it.  The GAA is probably one of, it not the most successful fundraising organisations in Ireland.  There is now a not inconsiderable cottage industry that exists based on the "GAA club market" which helps clubs spend this money. The greatest cost to all of this is the very slow and creeping loss of the volunteer ethos in clubs. During the Celtic Tiger era, there was a view that the answer was to throw money at the club, rather than look for a volunteer solution.  That has been with us ever since.  Instead of this notion of "Club Good County Bad", maybe its time the focus shifted back to looking at this issue which is prevalent throughout the GAA.

Discuss! 
« Last Edit: January 05, 2018, 11:40:22 AM by APM »

Seany

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 335
    • View Profile
...and it goes beyond this.  Scor exists for the clubs to promote the language, pastimes, dance, music of Ireland and the vast majority don't bother.  A lesser point is they will also feel free to run Strictly Come Dancing, or Lip Synch or something like that, while expecting Croke Park to slavishly play diddly aye music at matches and not for one moment deviate from it. 

johnneycool

  • Guest
We don't pay any of our managers and never had. They're all club members doing their best and they're offered whatever courses are going and that's that.

We do pay for a physio to be present once a week at a training night and if possible all championship games along with the normal first aider who attends most training sessions and games. The first aider doesn't get paid.

Bottom line is that we've never felt the need to look externally for a manager and we probably couldn't afford one anyway going by the figures being bandied about.


All our resources are currently being pumped into facilities, feel free to help out  ;)

http://ballygalget.club/donate/


JoG2

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2964
    • View Profile
I am fascinated by the ongoing club versus county debate that has developed into the greatest faultline in the GAA.  We have had the emergence of the CPA to highlight (rightly) how club football is disadvantaged by the county scene, with championship fixtures in successful counties condensed into a short window either in the early autumn and possibly the spring time.  We have pundits regularly ridiculing the "crazy" training regimes of inter-county teams and the seeming relentless drive towards professionalism and elitism.  The comparison is often made with the club, the lifeblood of the GAA, which is seen as a paragon of virtue. 

I would agree with a lot of what is said on this topic, but is it not time we took a more critical look at what is going on at club level?  How many clubs can you name in your own area that don't engage an outside manager / coach or both? Very few I imagine and I'd wager a good number are being paid. 

There is a cost to all of this beyond the invoice at the end of the month!  A paid coach needs to demonstrate success, so will demand more from the players.  Yes, a more structured training environment is certainly desirable; but many of these paid 'coaches' are complete charlatans.  How many are in it for the right reasons and prioritise the welfare of the player instead of their own bank balance (more training sessions means a bigger weekly fee) or reputation? Does paying a coach guarantee success? No, of course not - only one team can win any competition in a given year. This is a zero sum game and a rat race.

Moreover, it is worth looking at the cost of running club teams generally.  How much money is being spent by clubs on outside gyms and winter training facilities.  Consider the cost of physios to GAA clubs.  Do clubs need a physio at every game, when most physio work is either involved in rehab or prevention. 

And then you ask the question, where does this money come from?  It comes out of the community, through fundraising, selling tickets and running events.  It certainly isn't funded and cannot be justified by gate receipts at games for the vast majority of teams.  What's the opportunity cost of this expenditure?  Could it be spent better at underage level? Could it be spent better on facilities?  Is it all needed and could we do with less?

The bottom line is that the GAA needs to look very very carefully at this and stop ignoring it.  The GAA is probably one of, it not the most successful fundraising organisations in Ireland.  There is now a not inconsiderable cottage industry that exists based on the "GAA club market" which helps clubs spend this money. The greatest cost to all of this is the very slow and creeping loss of the volunteer ethos in clubs. During the Celtic Tiger era, there was a view that the answer was to throw money at the club, rather than look for a volunteer solution.  That has been with us ever since.  Instead of this notion of "Club Good County Bad", maybe its time the focus shifted back to looking at this issue which is prevalent throughout the GAA.

Discuss!

The outside manager's brown envelope will, in the vast majority of cases come from a benefactor associated with the club. It's the usual heads in the North-West on a big merry go round, manage a couple of teams in Derry, head to Tyrone for a year or 2, maybe pop to Donegal, Cavan or Monaghan for a lock of euro...and round and round we go. These boys are too expensive to manage their own county u21's  and the like! There's a few who spring to mind who must be well over the 100k mark at this stage managing in an amateur environment . It's a serious blight on the club game, and clubs have completely lost the run of themselves clamoring to get an outside man in. You either want to do it for the club or not.
I'd be all for keeping club management within the club, the onus being on the club to help members with coaching development, which is very doable as there's provincial and CB courses on continuously during the year, and can be organised by the clubs coaching (development) officer.

The Bearded One

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 331
    • View Profile
Here is my story.

A former club player who also over the years coached underage teams within the club at all ages from tots to minors whilst playing. When I quit playing it was a natural progression to get involved with the adult teams, which I did for 3 years alongside another clubman. We done well, no major honours, but showed a marked improvement from previous years and created a more professional attitude with our senior lads. The hurlers on the ditch were always ridiculing and b*tching, but it goes with the territory in your own club. There was a serious time commitment, but it is in my blood so it was my passion outside my wife and young family. When our time was up we stood down. I was asked by a club known to me would I be interested in going for a chat about coming on board with them as their coach to work with a clubman as manager. I agreed and we had a couple of meetings, the potential in the club interested me and the people I spoke to were looking to go the right direction, so I went in and spent a couple of great years there. Again, no major honours but my time there was hugely successful for a number of reasons. I moved on and took a step back for a year, my phone never stopped with clubs looking for me to go and speak to them about management/coaching roles. Clubs who knew nothing about me, who were just looking 'an outside man' and appeared money wasn't an issue. Clubs are fixated with outside men. None of these clubs appealed to me as they weren't seeking someone to come and in look at long term development, it was all about a quick fix. I see more value in going somewhere and setting about creating good standards, keeping players on board and bringing back lads who previously quit, having a structure in place for the next man. A trophy is the ultimate aim, but these coaches who go and destroy clubs for a couple of years both in terms of killing players with unrealistic training regimes and killing finances by taking a ransom are the ones that need stopped.

For the record I took expenses from the club I was with to cover my fuel, my telephone costs and my time away from my home and family. Someone working in their local Tesco or behind their local pub for a shift would earn as much.
It is what it is.

mup

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 406
    • View Profile
Without wanting to come across as smart but maybe that's why your phone was ringing the whole time. Getting a decent coach in for nothing.

APM

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 129
    • View Profile
Without wanting to come across as smart but maybe that's why your phone was ringing the whole time. Getting a decent coach in for nothing.

Is that not one half of the problem - people would think you man for doing it for nothing (or no use). Not really in keeping with a volunteering tradition which is the bedrock of the GAA.  The other half of the problem is there is now a market for these services that didn't previously exist. 

APM

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 129
    • View Profile
Serious subject and nobody biting at all!  Ewan McKenna had an interesting article in yesterday's Independent - proposing Brolly as the new DG.  A lot of the views expressed are the backdrop to much of the concerns that I raised in the OP. However, it once again falls into this notion that county football and the associated elitism is the source of all ills:

https://www.independent.ie/sport/gaelic-games/ewan-mackenna-why-the-gaa-needs-joe-brolly-at-the-helm-as-the-new-directorgeneral-36461713.html

Couple of quotes from McKenna's article:

"Instead we have Sky deals, GPA handouts, club peasantry, rural isolation and fixture chaos, with almost all of it down to a gearing towards those best off"

"This is a time to again credit the GAA volunteer in reality and not just rhetoric, and to put the majority first. It's a time to put pressure on and influence a society rotting before us and all for the benefit of a spoiled minority. Is that not a massive opportunity?"

Do we want a debate about one of the biggest elephants in the room, the very gradual erosion of the volunteer ethos right across the GAA - or are we going to just focus on the problems at county level!!