BREAKING: New Laois SFC Format - Questions and Answers

Rory Delaney


Rory Delaney

With the fall out from Wednesday night’s Laois County Board meeting gathering pace, a number of aspects of the new, and old, format for the SFC have been a cause for concern.

With the fall out from Wednesday night’s Laois County Board meeting gathering pace, a number of aspects of the new, and old, format for the SFC have been a cause for concern.

Below, we have listed in a ‘Questions and Answers’ style some of the pressing concerns from readers conveyed to us since the new format was announced last night.

One area of concern for clubs who voted last night may be that, potentially, the vote itself should not have taken place. Under Rule 4.3 of the Treoir Oifigiúl, a vote to rescind the decision of a duly convened meeting can only be taken if due notice is provided to each member of the intention to rescind the decision.

The manner in which the ‘new’ SFC came to be, was that the decision to constitute it taken in the January County Committee meeting, in a format which was in breach of Rule 6.20.3, was deleted from the record.

A different proposal was put to the delegates prior to Wednesday night’s meeting. During the course of the meeting, acting chairman Peter O’Neill then introduced the prospect of rescinding the Laois SFC. However, this was only proposed midway through the meeting, and it would remain to be seen whether this would be deemed ‘due notice’. The full wording of the rule is listed below.


What is the status of the ‘old’ and ‘new’ championship?

The ‘old’ championship is declared void. The ‘new’ championship is constituted properly under rule, with 12 teams agreeing to enter it.


How can a championship be organised without three teams in it?

All three clubs agreed not to enter. The County Committee can determine the composition of club championships.


Does this affect their SFC status for 2015?

The County Committee will decide in January on the competition structures for 2015 and all clubs can be included at that point. The composition of that championship will be passed with a vote at that meeting.


Why do suspensions carry over to the ‘new’ championship?

Laois GAA have stated that the advice of the Ard Stiúrtheoir’s office is that suspensions are still valid. The wording of suspensions is as follows:

‘A One Match Suspension in the same Code and at the same Level, applicable to the next game in the same Competition, even if that game occurs in the following year’s competition.’

Any player who is sent off in a game which is subsequently declared void would see their suspension stand. It is believed this applies here as well. If they were sent off in an SFC game, even if that SFC game was declared void, the suspension would still carry forward to the next SFC game.


If this is a new championship, how are the fixtures from the old championship in place?

It should be pointed out at this point, that the ‘old’ championship is not deemed some kind of qualifier for this one.

The ‘new’ championship is a separate competition, properly constituted under rule. Twelve teams agreed to enter, and three opted out. The ‘old’ fixtures are in place as clubs adopted those fixtures for the new format. This was done to minimize disruption.


Why are four teams seeded in the second round?

No teams are seeded. The term ‘seeded’ wasn’t used in relation to the fixtures.


Can players from Portlaoise and Graiguecullen, who were eligible for intermediate and subsequently played senior, revert back to playing intermediate this weekend?

It is believed they are not. Like the issue with suspensions, it will be determined by the last game the player participated in. If that was in a senior competition, then that still stands, even if the competition is declared void, which the ‘old’ SFC was. Therefore, those players will not be eligible to play intermediate this weekend.


One rule states that ‘alterations may be considered only on an annual basis.’ Why was this championship allowed to be changed now?

It is maintained that there was no alteration. The proposed format adopted at a county committee meeting earlier this year was deleted, as it was contrary to Rule 6.20.3. With that deleted, a new competition was needed. In its place, a new SFC was constituted within rule, and 12 teams agreed to enter it, and three opted out.


Was the vote legal?

In the course of our research, we found the following wording in Rule 4.3, which governs voting.

“Except where otherwise provided in these Rules, all decisions at General Meetings and Committee Meetings shall be taken by a simple majority of those present entitled to vote and voting, and in the event of a tie, the presiding Chairperson shall have a casting vote in addition to his vote as a member, irrespective of whether or not he had originally voted on the issue.

“Any decision taken at a duly convened meeting of any Committee or Council of the Association, shall not be rescinded at a subsequent meeting, unless due notice of intention to propose rescindment has been previously conveyed to each member, and the consent of two thirds of those present entitled to vote and voting is obtained.”

The second paragraph is where problems could arise. The delegates who attended Wednesday’s meeting may not have been given due notice of a vote to rescind the championship. The proposal put to them prior to the meeting was “that the Relegation process in the SFC be set aside for 2014 and that we continue our Championship in the present format to conclusion.”

At no point does it mention rescinding the championship. That prospect was only raised midway through the meeting, and a vote was subsequently taken on it, which was carried.

But, was this vote out of order? Was raising this propect midway through meeting ‘due notice’? When asked if the vote is out of order, Laois GAA Secretary Niall Handy has stated. “Not in my opinion. The clubs knew what they were voting for.”


Can any of this be appealed?

Of course. This is the GAA. You can appeal whatever you want. Whether your appeal is successful is another matter, but clubs are certainly free to appeal if they wish.

It is worth noting that the Laois JFC was organised outside of the rules for a number of years without anyone aware of the problem. The Kildare SFC was also run on a format which contravened rule for a number of years. The difference there? No one objected. Would they have been entitled to? Yes.

In short, some rules are only enforced if someone realises there is a problem, and looks for them to be enforced.