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Dublin: 8°C Tuesday 18 May 2021

Quinn's Visionary Group reject claims they have withdrawn interest in revamping League of Ireland

The Group are no longer involved in the FAI-organised process of reform, but remain open to working with clubs on a ‘ better future for the League of Ireland.’

Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

THE FOOTBALL VISIONARY Group, which includes ex-Irish international Niall Quinn, have rejected suggestions they have withdrawn their interest in working with clubs to revamp the League of Ireland. 

The Group published plans for reform across Irish football in May, and included a proposal that the League of Ireland be run independently of the FAI. The Group also includes former League of Ireland footballer Kieran Foley, Barry Lysaght and Irish international Stephanie Roche.

The Visionary Group presented their proposals to League clubs at a strategic planning weekend at FAI HQ in July, which was also attended by representatives of the Professional Footballers’ Association of Ireland, Supporters Groups, referees and the recently-formed League Managers’ Association of Ireland.

The FAI’s interim General Manager Noel Mooney was also present. 

Tech entrepreneur Kieran Lucid also outlined his vision of an all-island league at this meeting.

That meeting concluded with the formation of a Working Group featuring representatives of eight clubs, which has met over recent months to further discuss the best path forward for the competition. 

This process culminated in a meeting at Tallaght Stadium yesterday, at which the Working Group presented recommended plans to clubs. These will be voted on at a convention next month. 

Quinn’s Visionary Group were not at this meeting, and an FAI media release sent on Monday afternoon ahead of that meeting stated that the Visionary Group have “withdrawn from the process.”  

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In a statement, the Group say that reports of their withdrawing interest “in being part of the proposed solution for a revamped League of Ireland” are “completely false.” 

“It appears that these reports were based on a media release circulated by the FAI”, read the statement. “If so, it is both confusing and deeply regrettable that the FAI would choose to act in such a disingenuous manner.”

In the statement, the Group affirmed their commitment to working with clubs on the “creation of a better future for the League of Ireland”, and stressed they remain available to work with clubs, and remain “open to accepting any mandate which the clubs may agree on for a formal proposal involving the Group in the restructuring of the League.”

The Group confirmed they have withdrawn from the FAI-organised process of reform that led to yesterday’s meeting in Tallaght. 

They said their decision not to send a representative to a September meeting on the matter “was due to the FAI seeking to take control of further proceedings”, which they view as “essentially continuing broken rhetoric and unfulfilled promises.”

The FAI declined to comment. 

About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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