The GAA have announced proposals for major changes to take place in the All Ireland Senior Football Championship. The proposals will see extra games been added to the tournament and a possible group stage, with a view of aiding the club championships.
Director of the GAA Paraic Duffy announced the changes today in a document which would leave the provincial championships unchanged but will shake up the All-Ireland series. The proposal will in fact add extra games to the championship, however the GAA hope to get abolish the Allianz League semi-finals. The biggest change will see an introduction of a group stage. The proposal looks to replace the quarter final stage of the championship with a round robin contested by the four provincial winners and the four round 4 qualifier winners. The proposal would see two groups of four teams, where each team would play a game in Croke Park, one game away and one game at home. A total of three games. However, under the proposals the date of the All Ireland Hurling Final will be pushed forward to the 21st of August, with the football semi-finals a week later and the All Ireland Football Final to be played on the 18th of September. According to RTE Sport a statement by the GAA said that the proposals will lead to a dramatic championship, than the current one. The statement said ‘The new structure would provide a more exacting pathway to the All-Ireland final: the finalists will have had to compete with three of the best teams in the country at the group stage, followed by a semi-final with a top-four team that came through the same test’. In addition to this the statement said the proposals would also increase commercial and broadcast income.
The Proposal is as follows:
PROVINCIAL CHAMPIONSHIPS: Knock-out format as at present.
ALL-IRELAND QUALIFIER SERIES
Round 1: Sixteen teams that do not qualify for provincial semi-finals
Round 2: Eight round 1 winners play eight defeated provincial semi-finalists
Round 3: Eight round 2 winners play each other on an open-draw basis
Round 4: Four round 3 winners play four provincial runners-up
(i) A Division 3 or 4 team drawn against a Division 1 or 2 team in rounds one, two or three of the qualifiers will be granted an automatic home-venue advantage.
(ii) The format of ‘A’ and ‘B’ sides to the qualifier draw will be ended.
The current quarter-final stage of the championship to be replaced by a Group Stage, contested by the four provincial champions and the four round 4 qualifier winners.
The group stage will be organised on a league basis with two groups of four teams, with each team playing the other three teams once.
After the group stage is completed the top two teams in each group will progress to the All-Ireland semi-final with the Group 1 winner playing the Group 2 runner-up and the Group 2 winner playing the Group 1 runner-up
Order of fixtures in both groups
Team 1 v Team 2. Croke Park
Team 3 v Team 4. Croke Park
Team 1 v Team 3 or 4. Home advantage for provincial champions.
Team 2 V Team 3 or 4. Home advantage for provincial champions.
Team 1 v Team 3 or 4. Home advantage for Team 3 or 4.
Team 2 v Team 3 or 4. Home advantage for Team 3 or 4.
Home venues shall be subject to approval by the Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) and shall meet the criteria set down by the National Facilities/Health and Safety Committee. CCCC shall make the draws for Rounds 2 and 3.
The above fixtures format for the group stage means that each team will have one game in Croke Park, one home game and one away game.
Tie-breakers in the event of teams finishing level on points (in order of application):
(i) Result of game between two tied teams (only where two teams are level on points)
(ii) Score difference
(iii) Highest score for
(iv) Goals scored
(v) Play-off match
Group 1 winner v Group 2 runner-up
Group 2 winner v Group 1 runner-up
(to be played over one weekend)