Will the naming right for Semple Stadium, Thurles be sold?
The Premier Plan was unveiled at the monthly meeting of the County Board on Tuesday, January 30th - the strategic vision and action plan for the GAA in Tipperary (2018-2020) features a number of eye-catching recommendations: the appointment of a commercial manager, a plan to stream club matches live and it also argues that the search should be intensified to identify a “sponsor who will pay at least €100,000” for the Semple Stadium naming rights. But the question is: will this strategic plan herald a bright new dawn for Gaelic games in Tipperary?
The Premier Plan was launched by development officer PJ Maher (Boherlahan-Dualla) at the January meeting of the County Board in the Sarsfields Centre, Thurles.
In September 2016 the former County Board chairman Michael Bourke (Upperchurch-Drombane) asked the development committee to form a task force with a view to compiling a strategic plan which would help to focus the efforts of Tipperary GAA (2018-2020).
The committee involved embarked on an exhaustive consultation process with members of the public, supporters, players and officers before compiling the final report and issuing recommendations.
“I would encourage clubs to have a discussion about it,” committee chairman PJ Maher said.
“A lot of work has gone into it. So, I would urge everyone to have a good read of it,” the Boherlahan-Dualla man added before taking time to praise the members of his committee for doing a “first class” job. Indeed, Mr Maher reserved particular praise for the efforts of committee secretary Denis Floyd (Newport).
The committee behind the strategic plan reads as follows: chairman PJ Maher (Boherlahan-Dualla), secretary Denis Floyd (Newport), Jackie Meagher (Toomevara), Conor O’Dwyer (Upperchurch-Drombane), Jim Nagle (Nenagh Éire Óg), Phil Ryan (Sean Treacy's), Michael Ryan (Thurles), John Currivan (Golden-Kilfeacle), Martin Bourke (Upperchurch-Drombane), Tom Dawson (Éire Óg Annacarty) and Dinny Maher (Thurles).
County Board chairman John Devane echoed the sentiments of Mr Maher when complimenting the committee on their work and asked club delegates to “take it, look at it, read it and study it”.
Mr Devane made a key point when he advised club delegates to act on the strategic plan and not to leave it “just sitting there”.
The success of the strategic plan will be determined by the decision of GAA people in the county to buy into the recommendations and do the work necessary to realise the potential of Tipperary GAA. Only then can such a plan herald a bright new dawn for Gaelic games in the county.
THE PREMIER PLAN
So, what is the Premier Plan?
The 'Premier Plan' is a 48-page document aimed at “mapping the way forward for the Premier County” - it is a “strategic vision and action plan for the GAA in Tipperary (2018-2020)”.
This strategic plan is divided into a number of sub sections, namely: our games, governance development and planning, communications, club and social and finance and fundraising.
The details of a recommended re-structure of the respective club hurling and football championships was publicised in 2017 - in senior hurling sixteen teams competing for the Dan Breen Cup, sixteen teams competing for a Premier Intermediate Hurling Championship (progressing to represent Tipperary in the Munster Intemediate Hurling Championship) and sixteen teams competing for the intermediate hurling championship.
The report argues that this structure would provide a “more competitive and meaningful championships and for all teams to have a reasonable prospect of competing successfully in the grade they are playing”.
The Premier Plan recommends that the senior football, intermediate football, junior A and junior B competition structures remain as is.
One particularly interesting proposal is a recommendation that the minor and under-21 A hurling and football championship be run on an all-county basis while non ‘Premier Minor' and 'Premier Under-21' teams compete in the their respective divisional championships with the winners advancing to the county championship.
The strategic plan also recommends that the minor grade be reduced to under-17 and that the under-21 grade to under-20.
In terms of governance (the processes associated with making and implementing decisions) the Premier Plan recommends that each club chairperson become an ex-officio member of the county committee and that the club secretary act as proxy in their absence.
The strategic plan recommends a review of the sub-committee structures of the County Board and that an effort be made to clarify the role of each committee while it also recommends the establishment of a marketing, communications and IT committee (chaired by the County Board PRO).
The Premier Plan argues that the role of the divisional boards needs to be defined and that the role of the County Board secretary, assistant secretary and treasurer also needs to be re-defined.
The strategic plan suggests that the County Board appoint a health and well-being officer to oversee the healthy club programme while the Premier Plan also argues that a comprehensive training programme be developed to help train club and County Board officers.
Most interestingly the Premier Plan recommends that Tipperary GAA appoint a commercial manager who would operate on a commission-only basis.
Such an appointment would fit in with the County Board's ambitious plans to develop the fund-raising arm of the association in Tipperary - the report suggests that an “aggressive fundraising plan” be pieced together. Indeed, the strategic plan recommends that the County Board develop a “marketing plan to maximise commercial revenue and promotional potential” and seek out “innovative methods of fundraising” while also developing the “fundraising potential of our various IT platforms”.
The Premier Plan recommends that a stand-alone committee be established to realise the potential of The Dome, Thurles and review the possibility of modernising the venue.
In terms of Semple Stadium, Thurles the strategic plan suggests that the County Board should plan to host one major sporting and music event per annum at the venue and that the search should be intensified to identify a “sponsor who will pay at least €100,000 for the naming rights on Semple Stadium”.
The Premier Plan also recommends that a plan be put in place to further develop Semple Stadium and that the possibility of purchasing additional lands adjacent to the facility be considered.
Meanwhile it is also recommended that the possibility be examined of installing a “new centre of excellence” as part of a re-developed Kinane Stand at Semple Stadium, Thurles.
In terms of facilities the Premier Plan recommends that Dr Morris Park, Thurles be developed to a significant degree and that a five-year capital development plan be compiled with relation to the development of a centre of excellence.
The strategic plan suggests that the Tipperary GAA website undergo a “complete re-design” and that the County Board “investigate sponsorship opportunities for all social media platforms” while the Premier County also needs to “investigate ways of better promoting the Tipperary brand”.
Interestingly, the Premier Plan recommends that Tipperary GAA consider the possibility of streaming club matches live and that a considered effort be made to increase the number of information technology (IT) officers operating within the county. The County Board intend to roll out a comprehensive IT training programme for club IT officers.
Significantly, the strategic plan argues that the long-term sustainability of rural clubs is one of the most important areas for the County Board to prioritise. The Premier Plan recommends that focus groups be established to look at the issues faced by both urban and rural clubs - the respective parties are presented with distinctly different challenges.
The Premier Plan also highlights the need for Tipperary GAA to champion “equality and offer an inclusive and welcoming environment for everyone”.
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