Why the new proposed GAA SFC format completely misses the point…

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Champ Restructure

The structure of the Senior Football Championship has come in for great criticism in recent years, being labelled as outdated and unfair on many teams. The complaint that is heard most often is that there are far too many one-sided games. This is a hard point to argue against, especially as we have recently seen

Dublin win their 11 th Leinster title in the past 12 seasons, while never really stepping out of second gear. There have been many differing solutions suggested, with the much mooted ‘champions league format’ most often being seen as the way forward. With such discontent streaming from fans, as well as current and former players, it seems something had to be done. Finally, the GAA (despite having the reputation as an organisation which is often resistant to change) has attempted to tackle the issue.

In the new format which the GAA has been proposed would see the quarter final stage of the championship be replaced with a round robin series, consisting of two groups of four teams. Each team would then play 3 games: one at home, one away, and one in Croke Park. There would also be some other insignificant tweaks to the qualifier system, with the current system of ‘A’ and ‘B’ sides of the draw being abolished, while the GAA calendar would also be shuffled slightly. However, it is the introduction of a round robin series that is the main topic of discussion. The question that has to be asked is: does the suggested reformat of the championship fix the problems that are currently present?

One might be tempted to say that it does. One of the most prevalent issues that has been raised is that there are not enough games between the elite teams, with the championship really only becoming competitive at the quarter final stage, especially for the likes of Dublin and Kerry. The round robin series would certainly address those issues, with eight extra high quality games being added to the calendar.

Croke_parkWhile these extra meetings of the top teams may add some excitement to the championship, it appears to me that these changes will only be of benefit to the top tier of teams. There is little in the suggested changes that will improve the outlook for the weaker counties. There will still be the prospect of heavy defeats in the provincial championships. There is also little chance that the reformat will see added games for these counties, and many will still have just two games all summer.
How are these players meant to improve without consistent games at a championship level? There is also the fact that the changes will make it even more difficult for these teams to progress to the latter stages of the championship. Would the Tipperary footballers, who have undoubtedly been the story of this year’s championship, still be in an all-Ireland semi final had the round robin be in affect this year? I would venture to say that it is unlikely. Cinderella runs would become even more difficult, as these teams would have to overcome stronger counties an increasing number of times.

It is commendable that the GAA are attempting to make changes, but these are wide of the mark. It favours only the elite counties and does not help to strengthen the rest of the teams throughout the country. While I personally would not be a fan of a ‘B’ championship, something must be done to offer more high level games to the counties who are most in need of them. While there does not seem to be an obvious solution which would appease everybody, the current suggestions are not what are required.

Give us your opinion below or in our forums!

Junior Write Gary Connaughton

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