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Dublin: 5 °C Saturday 14 December, 2019

Niall Quinn says renaming the FAI might help reform the organisation and 'regain trust'

Quinn met with politicians and members of the local football groups in Leinster House today.

Niall Quinn says now is the time for radical overhaul of the FAI.
Niall Quinn says now is the time for radical overhaul of the FAI.

FORMER IRELAND INTERNATIONAL footballer Niall Quinn has proposed a renaming of the FAI might be the way forward in reforming the organisation.

Quinn met with politicians and members of the local football groups in Leinster House today, where he welcomed the news of the FAI board resigning.

However, he warned that it is “not a silver bullet”, adding that radical change is needed.

Citing the name change success of the Olympic Council of Ireland, (now named the Olympic Federation of Ireland) after the Rio ticket scandal, Quinn said it is something to consider.

Name change 

Speaking about his proposal, he said:

“I threw it out there because the Olympic Federation has just come in to a really good place,” he said.

The government is happy, the trust has been rebuilt. What did they do? That is the only reason I looked at it and I was looking at how it has gone so well for them.

They had a CEO who kept their head under water, who wasn’t a celebrity and did some brilliant work. The executives were around it to do the exact same thing. There is a lot to like there.

Quinn said the “most important thing” is that the next CEO of the FAI is “dynamic and brilliant” and is someone who “is not a celebrity” and “understated”.

He added that the next boss should be someone where the “narrative won’t be about him”.

‘Not the person to lead that’

When asked if he would be interested in the job, Quinn said he’s “certainly not the person to lead that”, adding that he is “not in a position to do that”.

He added that it’s unclear as to who will select the new CEO now that the board is gone.

The former international said he has been contacted by people who “have a most brilliant track record globally” and “who could bring a dynamism that has never been seen, felt or touched before”.

However, he added that he would be happy to give “some sort of assistance” to the organisational reform.

Quinn said he is confident that this is a “real opportunity”, though he said it is “pitiful it has come to this”.

He added that he doesn’t buy that Irish football can be as good as rugby, stating:
We can be much better than rugby.

The secret lies in the League of Ireland, said Quinn, who added that it should be “top of the agenda”. 

Taking a leaf out of the GAA’s book

Quinn said they need to “take a leaf out of the GAA’s book” and ensure that players aspire to play in the League of Ireland, he said, adding that we should return to the days of Johnny Giles, when “no one wanted to go to England”.

However, he said the “narrative now must change to rebuilding trust for all of the stakeholders”.

“Football needs to do that right now. It is not as simple as removing the CEO and the board.

“That represents an opportunity for things to happen but there are some real hard yards ahead of the new group that goes in to represent football in a new, more modern and transparent way.”

“Right now this does not need somebody with a voice talking about good things. The hard work has to start, someone has to go in, close the door behind them, roll up their sleeves and make the Association brilliant,” he added.

The Taoiseach told that he shared the concerns of the public after last week’s meeting, that clarity around certain issues had not been provided by John Delaney. 

While the marathon Oireachtas Sports Committee was underway today, the Taoiseach addressed the ongoing FAI issues during Leaders’ Questions today. 

Football fans

He reiterated that the government “very much shares the concern of taxpayers, the anger of football fans and the annoyance of the football grass-roots with the revelations of how the FAI has been run in recent years, if not for much longer”.

He said the issues were discussed at Cabinet this morning, and added that he agrees that investigations by Sport Ireland into the accounts and the finances of the FAI are necessary.

“It may also be necessary for the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement, ODCE, to carry out investigation under company law if there have been breaches of company law. These investigations need to take place. It would probably be best for Sport Ireland and the ODCE to decide the form of those investigations, but I agree that they are required.

“The objective must be to restore confidence in how the FAI is being run, ensuring we can get back to doing what we should be doing, that is, promoting this sport, funding it at grass-roots level for participation by young people and women in particular and ensuring that those involved in this really popular sport across the country are able to focus on what it does best.”

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