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GAA Director General Paraic Duffy has announced proposed changes to the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship which would see the quarter-finals scrapped in favour of a round robin competition.
There have been growing calls for the All-Ireland SFC to be restructured in a bid to reduce the inter-county season to allow more time for club championships to be played.
Under the proposals, the four quarter-finals would be replaced with two groups of four competing in a round robin competition with the four best teams progressing to the semi-finals.
Although the quarter-finals would be scraped, the provincial championships and the qualifier stage would stay the same with replays abolished to ease the pressure on inter-county players.
The proposals would add eight extra games to the All-Ireland but this would be offset by the removal of the Allianz Football League semi-finals.
The format of the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship would be 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.
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)
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