The simmering row between Longford referees and the GAA over the issue of expenses eased last night (Tuesday) following a statement from Croke Park.
As reported in today’s (Wednesday) Longford Leader, the county looked set to be facing into a weekend of heightened sporting uncertainty after Longford referees withdrew their services on Monday night.
At a meeting in Pearse Park, referees in Longford decided they could not support the GAA’s plans to introduce lower levels of expenses for club referees.
Under new policy by the GAA, which they say has been forced upon them by Revenue Commissioners, referees will be entitled to a flat expense rate of €13.71 and 50c per mile thereafter. This is the same as the civil service subsistence rate. Based on that, referees who travel less than five miles could technically not qualify for any expenses.
Joe O’Brien, refereeing coordinator for the county, has said resolving this issue must be a priority for Croke Park. “Referees are used to getting €40 a match. Now they’re being told their past-time is only worth half that. When we look at it, they sit in their car, drive to a game, ref the match, drive home, write up the report, and to be told now that it’s only worth less than half that is very disappointing.”
Less than 24 hours on however, fears of an all out strike would appear to have lessened somewhat with the GAA insisting regular payments would continue for the time being. This, it is understood, centres largely on negotiations with Revenue in terms of how officials can claim their expenses.