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Niall Quinn appointed FAI Interim Deputy CEO

The former Arsenal striker has been heavily linked with a role in the association in recent months.

Niall Quinn (file pic).
Niall Quinn (file pic).
Image: Ciaran Culligan/INPHO

Updated at 16.56

FORMER IRELAND INTERNATIONAL Niall Quinn has been appointed FAI Interim Deputy CEO, the association have confirmed.

The former Arsenal striker has been heavily linked with a role in the association in recent months and has experience in football administration, having previously served as chairman of Sunderland between 2006 and 2011.

He is also a former board member of Sport Ireland and has worked as a businessman across diverse industries in Ireland and abroad since retiring as a professional footballer, having earned 92 Ireland caps and played with Man City and Sunderland in addition to the Gunners.

One of Quinn’s primary challenges will be to help repair the reputation of the embattled organisation, whose dire financial situation has become fully apparent in recent months.

Part of an FAI statement read: “In addressing the current challenges facing the FAI, the executive team want to ensure that the organisation’s core objective of the promotion and development of the game of football in Ireland is prioritised.

Niall’s role with the team will focus on leading a future League of Ireland strategy, the overall development of the game in Ireland, including supporting grassroots and community initiatives together with our player pathway programmes. Niall will also focus on helping restoring and building key relationships and trust with key peer groups and the media.”

Gary Owens, whose appointment as the organisation’s interim chief executive was confirmed on Monday, said: “We are really pleased that someone of Niall’s calibre is joining the team. Football is such an important game in this country at every level. Niall not only brings great insight and experience to developing the game but is passionate about football in Ireland – his energy and commitment is a great fit for the FAI as we begin reform of the organisation and look to create a better future for football in Ireland.”

Meanwhile, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, and the Minister of State with responsibility for Sport, Brendan Griffin, welcomed news of Quinn’s appointment.

“It is great news for Irish football that Niall Quinn has been appointed as the FAI’s new interim Deputy CEO,” Minister Ross said. “Niall has a long association with Irish football and over the past year he has demonstrated very clearly his strong desire to see a vibrant body emerge for the good the Irish game. His passion for fair play, his independence and his integrity are widely known and admired. His experience and skills will be invaluable as part of the management team to lead the reform that is so necessary within the FAI. I’m very pleased with this decision and I wish Niall all the best in this important role.”

“This is a very welcome appointment,” Minister Griffin added. “Niall’s experience and his determination to see a better future for Irish football makes him an excellent choice as interim Deputy CEO. I wish him every success in his role.”

Quinn will hope to help oversee significant change in Irish football. He has been part of a visionary group that has published plans for reform across Irish football and has advocated the formation of an all-Ireland league, in addition to proposing that the League of Ireland be run independently of the FAI.

Earlier this month, Quinn had ruled himself out of the running to join the association as either Chief Executive or an independent director.

He is close to newly appointed chairperson Roy Barrett, however, and did previously add that he was interested in undertaking a role of some kind within the association.

The Dubliner, who has praised the appointment of three independent directors to the FAI board, previously said at the Virgin Media Sport launch on 9 January: “If there’s a role I can be used in, in a capacity that somehow bring trusts and capability from all of the stakeholders, be it from the commercial world or from the grassroots or the elite game in this country, that I can come in and champion and use what skillsets I have, I would gladly do it.”

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Paul Fennessy

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