The clear outcome from last week’s GAA Management Committee meeting which discussed the response from counties relating to the payment of team managers is that the matter will not be finalised before the upcoming GAA Congress in the middle of April.
In their response to Croke Park, counties gave a clear preference for the current regulations to be fully implemented. That was no surprise, but now comes the difficult task of implementing a regulation that is ultimately at the heart of the present difficulties.
A Team Manager’s Charter has been in place for some years now. Every county and its team managers are expected to sign the Charter at the beginning of each year.
The Charter sets out to ensure that there is a fair balance struck between the needs of the team manager and the requirement to ensure the club programme in each county is not compromised.
The Charter also aims to determine the details of the team manager’s payments to ensure compliance with GAA regulations.
In attempting to put a process in place to ensure the necessary level of control over the payment of expenses and revenue compliance, the GAA has wisely sought external assistance.
How to present payments
Advice is also required as to how County Boards will present such payments in their annual reports, because it is fair to assume that the tax authorities will make an occasional visit to ensure counties are fully tax compliant.
All the focus regarding payments to managers has centred on the inter-county scene, but the reality is that the issue is far more acute at club level.
The same principle of a team manager’s charter will apply at club level and I expect that each County Board will be expected to manage compliance by clubs within its own county.
Such an outcome would place a significant level of additional work on all County Boards and would most likely require the appointment of a compliance officer by each County.
I would anticipate such an individual being a volunteer just like the majority of County Board officers.
Policing how clubs remunerate their team managers is not a task that will be welcomed by any County Board. However, when they made the decision that current GAA policy should be implemented, they may not have realised that managing compliance at club level might ultimately land back on their own desks.
I was rather puzzled at the manner in which the payment of expenses to referees gained such media attention some weeks ago. There was no hint, as far as I could detect, of any concerns being voiced by the tax authorities about such payments.
I know from experience that Croke Park officials are in regular contact with the revenue authorities to seek advice on various taxation matters. This is an essential part of running any organisation as taxation compliance is now scrutinised more rigidly than ever.
Some way to go
This matter still has some way to go before it is finalised. Whatever the outcome, it is sure to involve stricter monitoring of expense payments across all areas and individuals involved with the GAA.
While accepting that the revenue authorities have a responsibility to ensure everyone in the country is tax compliant, I hope they take into account the scale of volunteering involved by so many people in the GAA.
These are the very people who are now coming under the spotlight. Their input, not just to the GAA, but to the social fabric of the entire country is immense.
Such volunteering input must be taken into account by the revenue authorities when deciding on its policy.