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Dublin: 4 °C Monday 24 February, 2020

Brian Kerr could be set for FAI return after 15-year exile

The famous Dubliner has been frozen out since John Delaney issued him a P45 in 2005.

Brian Kerr (file pic).
Brian Kerr (file pic).
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

BRIAN KERR IS set for a second, and more realistic, approach from the Football Association of Ireland to discuss ending his 15 years in exile.

The famous Dubliner, who was rewarded for unprecedented success with Ireland’s youth teams by being promoted to the senior post, has been frozen out since John Delaney issued him a P45 in 2005.

With the long-time chief executive finally off the scene, following his resignation in recent months from both the FAI and UEFA amid ongoing probes, hopes of a Kerr comeback have increased.

That prospect gained further traction over the weekend by Gerry McAnaney’s elevation to the post of FAI President.

He was emphatically returned ahead of Martin Heraghty as the choice of members on a 88-40 vote at Saturday’s emergency general meeting.

It’s no secret that McAnaney and Kerr are close.

The pair worked together on devising a development plan when Kerr was technical director before taking on the ultimate task of senior boss in 2003.

The new President, born in Dublin but living in Cork for 35 years, spoke glowingly of Kerr after Saturday’s triumph at the Crowne Plaza Blanchardstown.

Unlike former interim chief executive Noel Mooney, who last year annoyed Kerr by floating a role of “media watchdog” for him, McAnaney will be playing to the veteran’s strengths when hosting a sit-down in the coming weeks.

Niall Quinn, another fresh face inside Abbotstown from Monday as deputy chief executive, has also endorsed a return to the frontline of Irish football for Kerr.

It remains to be seen what specific post he’ll be offered but, in the first instance, a place on the new Football Management Committee could be explored.

That forum, as recommended by the governance review group, will function directly beneath the board.

It’s terms of reference includes “having a key advisory and oversight role in all football-related committees”.

Brian is on the record as saying he has no problem helping the FAI, so I would certainly be willing to talk to him,” said McAnaney.

“He is a personal friend of mine but I don’t need to tell people what he has done for Irish football over many years.

“Brian has something to give. I know him to be a man of extreme loyalty and that stretches to Irish football, through thick and thin.”

Meanwhile, the new President is convinced the right personnel are in place to help steer the FAI from its current crisis.

He has given a commitment to ensure any lay-offs arising from tackling €70m of debt won’t entail those at the coalface.

Sports Minister Shane Ross, intergal to supplying a bailout package also involving the Bank of Ireland and UEFA, is adamant that low-paid staff shouldn’t be punished for the mistakes of the previous regime.

“The boil has been lanced,” said McAnaney, in reference to the board overhaul.

“We could see at the EGM on Saturday and the recent AGM that members have found their voice. They are now dealing with a new board, including independent directors for the first time in the association’s history.

“There is high-calibre independent directors in Roy Barrett, Catherine Guy and Liz Doyle. People have been wondering how we managed to attract those when the FAI brand is supposed to be toxic.

“Then, there is our new interim CEO Gary Owens and his deputy Niall Quinn. We are certainly getting bang for our buck, albeit a buck we probably don’t have.

“The low-paid staff in the FAI are the footsoldiers keeping the show on the road week in, week out, so I would be very anxious that all of those people would be kept on.”

- Originally published at 00.01

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John Fallon

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