Tommy Lyons and the manager payments issue

The county is back in the spotlight again today, this time concerning the GAA’s issue du jour, payments to managers. Our involvement in this particular can of worms arises from the allegation made on RTE radio yesterday evening by one-time wannabe Mayo bainisteoir Tommy Lyons who claimed that during the interview process for the Mayo job back in 2010 he was asked to detail the amount he wanted for the job, put it in an envelope (the number, not the moolah itself) and hand it to a “senior Mayo official”. Tommy further clarified that the official in question was the County Board Treasurer.

The Indo has the full story on it (here) including a predictably furious denial from then County Board Chairman James Waldron that any such grubby incident had ever happened. Waldron instead claims that any kind of money talk with applicants would have been limited to expenses (which I guess is what you’d expect him to say).

Now, I know as much as the rest of you as regards what did and didn’t happen in relation to this issue and what was said and what wasn’t in relation to money. I do recall that during the interview process the shortlisted candidates were all asked to provide details of their projected costs (this Mayo News report from the time confirms that this was the case). There is obviously, however, a wealth of difference (pardon the pun) between expenses and income and a man such as Tommy Lyons, who is reportedly not short of a bob, would presumably be able to tell one from the other. As a result, the claims he made yesterday are unlikely to be anything to do with crossed wires as regards what he was allegedly asked to do.

In attempting to disentangle the proverbial wood from the trees on this one, it’s obviously difficult to look beyond Tommy’s candidature for the Mayo job. Could the fact that he went for it (and don’t forget that he was odds-on to land the gig at one stage) and very publicly didn’t get it have any bearing on this revelation? It wouldn’t be the surprise of the century to find out that it had.

Or could it be that this whole thing is an end-to-end production by The Sunday Game? Oh look, there’s man-about-town Marty Morrissey swanning through the committee room at McHale Park on the Six One News breezily blathering on about the discussion on managers’ payments that took place in the same room the previous evening. Oh listen, there’s TSG panelist Tommy Lyons on RTÉ radio making a very specific allegation in relation to the same county that Marty did his report in just a few minutes before. Isn’t that all lovely and very convenient altogether?

But this still leaves the question about the allegation itself, the details of which Tommy was very specific yesterday evening. Notwithstanding James Waldron’s denials, it would be interesting to see what the man at whom the allegation has been levelled has to say on the matter.

A further report on the issue today contains a statement County Board PRO Aidan McLoughlin which, building on what James Waldron said, points the finger clearly in another direction. As well as categorically denying that any County Board officer offered Tommy a working wage, Aidan added “that’s not to say that somebody outside of a County Board officer didn’t approach Tommy Lyons with an offer of payment for his services”.

This could be getting to the nub of the issue. It would certainly square with the apparent way that Tommy Lyons’ candidacy for the job, as well as that of Mick O’Dwyer before him, was championed by shadowy figures (Dublin cabal, anyone?) who, one assumes, could well have been willing to put money on (or under) the table to get their man. On the radio yesterday evening, there was much discussion about how various supporters’ groups have stumped up cash to pay for managers and so it’s not stretching credulity to believe that this may have been the ultimate source of any offer made to Tommy Lyons to name his price.

The whole issue of payments to managers is one that has been shrouded in a murky mist for years and I suspect that in this case we’ll end up knowing as much as we do on the issue writ large, i.e. bugger all.  My guess is that it will instead simply become another chapter in what is already a fairly opaque one for the GAA. Oh well, I’m sure proper enforcement of Option 2 will deal effectively with such cases in the future …

16 thoughts on “Tommy Lyons and the manager payments issue

  1. I think you are putting your “protective arm” around the County Board again WJ. You seem to be putting it out there that Tommy Lyons is throwing out this story because he is bitter at being overlooked for the Mayo job. No doubt the CB will try and put the same spin on it. However that rumour about the brown envelope(not sure if it was brown) has been circulating for some time now back here in the home county. All these rumours have been leading back to one man who is well known – I wont name him here – but if Lyons is going public he may as well tell the full story. I agree with you on the ongoing murky situation with regard to remuneration for managers – – – people are again talking out of the two sides of their mouths here. On the one hand we hear the various officials being highly indignant about payments to managers – – a big No-No – – – – while at the same time they are offering them more than generous expenses under the table and in several cases a sponsor’s top of the range car is thrown in as well. I suppose you could call it an “Irish solution to an Irish problem” What is the difference between “generous expenses” and “payments.” I certainly wouldn’t expect any man that manages a team to be out of pocket but at the same time it can be more than a little annoying to listen to some of these overbearing County Board officers rant on about non-payments, love of the game etc — if they want to be totally transparent why do they not publish annually the actual expenses managers, players, backroom-staff and also they themselves receive. In a similar way to some of the unions in this country they are somewhat reluctant to let the ordinary member know what reimbursement those at the top-table are in receipt of. Surely we, the members or in this case the supporters are entitled to know where OUR money is going.

  2. I think that’s an unfair assessment Samuel – I’m definitely not trying to protect anyone on this, just trying to figure out what might be going on. It’s difficult to be definitive about anything in relation to this story (which is why the piece is couched the way it is) and this is par for the course where it comes to manager payments. I do think that the rejection of Lyons in 2010 could (note the tense used) have a bearing on his going public now but as I said in the piece this still leaves the allegation on the table. I’m not based in the county and so not as well tuned into the jungle drums on every issue and I hadn’t heard any of those rumours you mention.

    I agree wholeheartedly with you that the current debate has been characterised by hypocrisy and cant and a whole load more transparency is needed in this area. I also agree that Lyons should come out with the full story but it’s always going to be one person’s word against another, which is why I concluded that it’s unlikely we’ll ever get to the bottom of it.

  3. This whole managerial mishmash is a smokescreen and a distraction. What is it all about anyway? Does any follower really care if a manager gets a few bob or a lot of bobs to take control of a panel of 30 plus players, a backroom made up of his own nominations and a few stalwarts from the “authorities” or powers that be.

    In addition he walks the line and gets a torrent of abuse from opposition followers and from his own lot if the whole thing goes belly up. I believe every penny they get they merit it. And more fool anyone who gives money to those who dont merit it.

    The elephant in the room is not the manager. The elephant in the room is the players. Make managers pay “official” and accountable and next up will be those that “sacrifice” their life’s, that stay off the drink, that don’t go dancing, smoking or chasing the birds. In other words they live a clean healthy life.

    It would be nice to get paid for kicking a ball and getting all the nice girls phone numbers but hey we cant have everything. Most useful footballers with heads well screwed on used to get advancement within their jobs, get doors opened to them that other didn’t.

    I have no doubt that sooner rather than later we will have a form of pay or professionalism for players. The wedge in the dam at the moment is the managers. hence you have county boards swearing never, never ever will they pay a cent for a manager.

    So if Jose Mourinho flies from Madrid to Clare (Shannon Airport nearby) we can assume its because Biddy Earley was his granny and his father Joey Moroney was reared on the Cliffs of Moher and wasn’t it always his desire to manage the Banner anyway and Yahoooooo.

    Its a most thankless job. John Maughan carried from the frey in Tuam 1999 and roundly abused by morons from Roscommon whom he managed in his latter career. Would you do it and would you put a price on the crap that will come your way?. Some yank opinioned all political careers end in flames (except in Ireland where fat pensions and pay offs ease the pain). All managerial careers eventually go up in smoke to , from Billy Nick, Bertie Mee, Sir Matt, Micko, Billy Morgan, even Big Joe could not turn Galway. They should be paid in gold.

  4. It was widely believed at the time that one individual was, in particular, behind the run of candidates we had from the east prior to the Horan appointment. Call it expenses, payments, whatever you want – there is no need to name the name as many will have heard it said anyway and it is of course completely unfair on the guy without any proof to back it up – which of course nobody will have.

    Either way it is an irrelevance because this has been happening nationwide for years. We are just getting singled out out because the arseboxer from The Sunday Game feels he was embarrased when he wasn’t chosen and is taking the opportunity to get a little revenge on the county that snubbed him.

  5. This Tommy Lyons story is way down the track. Please lets go back to the beginning of this , to 2006 when the manger left/ was sacked ( which ever you believe) after reaching an all Ireland. No explanation ever came from the management or the county board. Why were the traps closed and have over the last 6 years never been opened. Would any manager take this sacking / being asked to leave on the chin after getting to an all ireland ?

  6. mayo football doesnt need this scandal on top of everything else. if lyons was half the mayo man he claims to be he would have let this one go. it smells of spite to me. The best man got the job tommy now get over it.

  7. I will say that Tommy’s non-appointment has a massive impact on him coming out now with this information , because had he gotten the job , and was now receiving these very payments , you can be damn sure he wouldnt have followed marty on RTE spilling the beans !

  8. It doesnt really matter what the facts are, however one things for sure, Tommy comes across as a complete toolbox coming out with this now. WTF is to be gained spouting this ramesh? He’d want to be careful as well as hes been naming names now, and unless he has proof he might end up telling it all again to our friends with wigs.

    This whole thing about payments to managers was all fine when it was an Irish solution to an IRish problem. everyone knows that some of them are being paid, and more power to them for that. As Mr Cuffe says, you’d want to be a right luder to do it without being paid, so let them have the money. However if you make it offical then the players will want it as well and thats the end of our games as we know them. Dragging this up serves no-one, Marty and the boys should feck off and go investigate Anglo Irish or something that actually matters a damn to the country.

  9. as for Marty Morrissey would he actually get a job with any broadcaster on the planet other than RTE…..and to think we pay his wages. What a muppet.

  10. You are hard on Marty but Tommy Lyons is only a publicity seeker. What he said is now forgotten. “Yesterday’s man” I should say

  11. is treatment by the couty board left a lot to be desired as did the tratment of the ‘outsider’ manager in 96. Will it ever change.?

  12. Off topic – you Mayo lads may be interested to know that former Mayo player (Roscommon town resident) Kevin McStay has taken over the management of St Brigids footballers, he will be assisted by no less than Ballina man Liam McHale and a local Benny O Brien.

    @ John Cuffe, your correct that “management is a thankless job” . Noel O Brien, former Brigids manager is even getting a bit of stick for only guiding Brigids to 2 Connacht finals wins and 1 All Ireland appearance. However, to claim that John Maughan was ” roundly abused by morons from Roscommon” is false on two counts, (1) he was never abused by Roscommon fans (2) there are Morans in Roscommon, however looking up the auld phone book I could see no morons.

  13. Is Liam hanging up the bermudas down in Clare then, James? He must be.

    By the way, I think you’ll find there are both Morans and Morons in every county!

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