FAI 'very comfortable' with new Dundalk coaching set-up that sees Giovagnoli take reduced role

Dundalk may face punishment if Giovagnoli is deemed to be performing managerial duties, however.

Filippo Giovagnoli.
Filippo Giovagnoli.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

THE FAI SAY they are satisfied by Dundalk’s rejigged coaching structure for the season ahead, which has seen Shane Keegan assume managerial duties with Filippo Giovagnoli given an ostensibly reduced role. 

The new structure was given a formal sheen at a press conference yesterday, with Director of Football Jim Magilton accompanied by Keegan rather than Giovagnoli. 

Keegan – hitherto an opposition analyst who has also been pressed into helping out with off-field issues in recent weeks with the club somewhat short-staffed – now bears the title of club manager, with Giovagnoli officially in the background.

“Filippo does not pick the team”, said Magilton. 

In December, Dundalk announced Giovagnoli had signed a permanent contract as Head Coach, though he is now listed as ‘Coach’ on the club’s website, while Keegan is assigned ‘manager.’ 

Keegan, unlike Giovagnoli, holds a Uefa Pro Licence coaching qualification, a mandatory qualification for managers in European competition. Under FAI rules, a Premier Division manager must be at least enrolled in a Pro Licence course. Giovagnoli is not yet enrolled in a course, with the next FAI intake set for 2022. 

Uefa fined Dundalk €50,000 during last year’s Europa League group stages when Giovagnoli was deemed to be acting as the manager (they termed it “shadow coaching”), and while the FAI say they are satisfied by Dundalk’s coaching arrangement, they will monitor any similar infringements on Giovagnoli’s part throughout the season.

Dundalk are not the only club in this position – Alan Matthews, and not Stephen O’Donnell, holds the Pro Licence at Saint Patrick’s Athletic. 

“All the clubs each year have to submit mandated persons through the club licensing process, and that’s for various different roles including club doctors, child welfare officers, and one of the key roles in that is obviously who the manager is”, said League of Ireland director Mark Scanlon.

“Shane was submitted right from the start of Dundalk’s process, so it’s been quite clear for us for a period of time that Shane is obviously the manager.

“Uefa licensing criteria has been strict on this for a number of years, across European competitions and our own domestic licensing process also has them measures in place.

“We continue to monitor that. Match delegates monitor it on a weekly basis across the country, on various different aspects and one of those is the role of the manager on matchday, areas like the instructions being given from the sidelines and the media duties – those areas need to be carried out by the manager.

“We’re very comfortable with the situation but again, we continue to monitor it and if an issue arises as it did in a Uefa competition last year then the issue will be dealt with at the time when it arises, but it’s very clear as part of the licensing process what has to be done and Dundalk are fully aware of that situation and supportive of it as well.”

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launch-of-the-2021-sse-airtricity-premier-first-division-and-womens-national-league Mark Scanlon was speaking to mark the launch of the 2021 League of Ireland and Women's National League seasons. Source: Stephen McCarthy/SPORTSFILE

Elsewhere, Scanlon did not disclose the value of the League’s renewed title sponsorship with SSE Airtricity, nor did he respond when asked if it represents an increase on the reported €340,000 the sponsorship was worth last year. 

“All of our commercial sponsorships are commercially sensitive, we don’t disclose that information. We have engaged with the clubs over the overall investment in the league across both commercial and broadcast investment, but we don’t disclose individual amounts.” 

Scanlon also said there had been no complaints from other clubs regarding Robbie Keane’s informal and involvement at Shamrock Rovers, given he remains on the FAI’s payroll and without an assigned role since Stephen Kenny decided not to keep him on the senior international team’s coaching staff. 

“There are a number of FAI employees in coaching roles across clubs in the country and they would do that through FAI coaching policy so I wouldn’t be aware of the individual arrangements, and it wouldn’t come under my remit.”

Scanlon confirmed prize money in the men’s leagues is increased to a total of €600,000, its highest total since 2010. The prize money for the Women’s National League is €50,000, which is an increase of 141%. The FAI have also waived clubs’ affiliation and referees fees. 

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Gavin Cooney

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