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‘They don’t care about anyone but themselves’ – Ex-Ireland international hits out at FAI

Dave Langan has criticised the organisation and says Niall Quinn is the man to bring about change.

Langan won 26 Ireland caps between 1978 and 1987.
Langan won 26 Ireland caps between 1978 and 1987.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

FORMER INTERNATIONAL DAVE Langan has criticised the Football Association of Ireland for a lack of support shown to struggling ex-professional footballers, and has backed ex-team-mate Niall Quinn as a man capable of bringing about change within the embattled organisation.

The association have become embroiled in a series of controversies in recent weeks, including confusion around a €100,000 loan that was paid to them by John Delaney, revelations by a Sunday Times investigation that the former CEO spent €40,000 on the company credit card in the last six months of 2016 and news that auditors have reported the FAI for breaking company law.

Langan believe the association owe “a massive apology to the people of Irish football” if the investigation into these issues proves to be damning.

The 62-year-old former Birmingham and Derby player, who earned 26 caps for Ireland, also feels the association has been neglectful in its treatment of struggling ex-footballers such as himself.

The Dublin-born footballer was forced to retire early through injury and has been registered disabled after a series of operations.

The cost of mending his aching body has been substantial for Langan, who has had to support himself down through the years with what he has described as “Mickey Mouse jobs”, including work as a car park attendant, security man and porter.

A testimonial dinner was arranged with the help of the association for Langan in 2008 in order to raise funds for one knee operation, though he says he has not heard from them since.

When they did the dinner for me, I know it was done because of [pressure from] Boys in Green group. They haven’t spoken to me since then and it’s a long time ago. They all said to me: ‘We’ll keep in touch with you now and make sure you’re okay. We’ll make sure you’re in good form’ and all this. I haven’t heard from them, not a single word since that night. Nobody gets in touch with you, it’s a load of baloney. They don’t even send you a Christmas card, that’s how much they think of you… So I’ve no time for them at all.

“After Jack [Charlton] left me out of the squad [for Euro '88], I never heard a word from them [until the dinner].

“I don’t want to hear from them again, to be honest, because if that’s the way they treat former players, I’m not interested.

“I’m not the only one, there are a lot of ex-players who have been down the same road as me. The FA in England don’t bother with me either. I rang up for financial help for a [second] knee operation and they didn’t even get back to me.

“A few years back, I needed another knee operation and I thought: ‘I’m not ringing the FAI, because they wouldn’t even speak to me.’ So I rang the FA, [they said]: ‘Send your wage slips in, do this, do that,’ but I never heard a thing [back]. I just left it and went in under national health.”

Langan also cites the discrepancy between the money he has earned in recent years and reported salary of €360,000 that Delaney received during his time as chief executive.

“The job I was doing I was getting £8.17 an hour. So there’s a massive difference to his €360,000. They look after themselves and we’re not even thought of. They don’t care about anyone but themselves.” 

Niall Quinn Langan has backed Niall Quinn as the man to bring about change in the FAI. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

In response to Langan’s criticisms in relation to the association, a spokesperson for the FAI said: “The FAI were more than happy to be involved with Dave’s dinner that night and continue to help many deserving causes.”

Langan, meanwhile, reserves high praise for Quinn, who has been touted as a possible candidate to bring about change should he get the opportunity to work within the FAI.

“He’d be perfect [given his experience as] chairman of Sunderland.

He’s a very honest guy, a really down-to-earth fella, he’d be the top man with no problems whatsoever. He gets on with people, I think he’d be the top man for the job.”

Langan adds that a lack of support to ex-players is not exclusively an Irish problem. He claims people within English football have been similarly unhelpful. And indeed, he is far from the only individual to have made this claim. There has been growing disillusionment across the water with those who run the Professional Footballers’ Association. The organisation’s chief executive Gordon Taylor is set to step down after 38 years in charge, with the £2.29 million salary he earns among the issues attracting controversy.

Back in February, a report by David Conn in The Guardian noted in relation to the PFA: “Last year the total paid in benevolent grants to members and former members was £530,000, although £400,000 is also paid to the Sporting Chance Clinic, which helped 25 people with addictions to gambling, alcohol and substance misuse. Last year £230,273 was spent on a network of counsellors, who worked with 362 players, a need greatly increased because of the number of people coping with having been sexually abused as players, some of whom are giving traumatic evidence in court cases.

“There are many people grateful for the help but many, too, who accuse the PFA of not providing the best possible assistance to enough people, including some families of well-known former players with dementia. The PFA says it tries to help everybody it knows of in need, but, given it is in effect soccer’s welfare organisation for former professionals, it is not helped by the benevolent grants’ last year amounting to less than a quarter of Taylor’s salary package.”

And clearly, Langan, who won a League Cup with Oxford in 1986, is one of a number of individuals who feels hard done by, ever since the last appearance of his 12-year career in English football two decades ago at Peterborough United.

“With the FA, you get a phone call, £1,500 to get on with your life and you’re just thrown to the wolves.

“They just don’t care about ex-players. There’s uproar here about so many players from the ’70s and ’80s that have hit hard times because they didn’t earn much money. They’ve got millions and they won’t help the players.

Gordon Taylor is on [big money]. It seems that the people with big money just don’t give a monkeys about the people that are struggling.

“It’s shocking. I’m not the only one, a lot of ex-players are struggling. They’re not going to do anything unless there’s total change.

“The public don’t know about it. Nobody brings up ex-players — it’s like you’re forgotten about. They’re looking after their number one and to hell with you.”

Gavan Casey and Murray Kinsella are joined by Andy Dunne to preview the Champions Cup semi-finals and all the week’s news on the latest episode of The42 Rugby Weekly:

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Paul Fennessy

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