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'It was always the plan to step away' - Quinn on FAI departure

Niall Quinn stepped down as interim Deputy CEO yesterday.

Niall Quinn speaking tonight.
Niall Quinn speaking tonight.

NIALL QUINN SAYS a permanent role in the FAI was never on the cards for him following his departure this week as interim Deputy CEO.

Quinn, who took the role in January, announced his decision to step down on Monday just days after interim CEO Gary Owens said he would not be applying for the role on a permanent basis.

Speaking on Virgin Media Sport tonight, Quinn said of his departure: “I certainly wasn’t pushed. To be honest there was never anything but the interim role for the deputy.

“I think the CEO could have had designs on becoming a future permanent CEO but there was no role for me. I knew that, everybody close to it would have known that.

“The time has flown. I can’t believe it’s been seven months. In that time we were charged with bringing a bit of trust and confidence back into the game and allowing for funding to be restored. We had to try and bring in reforms that would stand up to scrutiny in terms of electoral reform, financial governance, procurements and making sure there was a policy there for everything the Association was spending.

“So it was quite varied and then of course there was all the constituents, be it League of Ireland, schoolboys football, women’s football – football for all.”

Reflecting on his seven-month involvement with the Association, the former Ireland striker said their priority was to regain the public’s trust.

“The pressure was on a little bit from day one anyway, but Covid-19 coming along made it a little bit tougher. All-in it was actually a memorable experience. I wouldn’t say it was all great and there was hostility there, I said that many times.

“But I understand why – outsiders coming in and taking the mantle of bringing the Association on when people who put a lot of work into the game were at best pushed to one side and at worst probably blamed for what was going on.

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“So I understand why there was hostility there towards it. But I hope now people understand that for the best interests of football the thing was always to get that trust back, but then to allow it to go forward and proceed with a new permanent CEO that will hopefully meet everyone’s expectations and the game as a whole can start to kick on with more unity.

“So it was always the plan to step away, it was just when was the right time and hopefully, now the game will settle down with less noise, the finances will be good and each constituent in the game will feel there’s something there for them in the future and that we can never go back to the awful ways of our previous regime. So I enjoyed it and some interesting times. 

“One thing I’d say, and I really mean this, I thought I knew a bit about the FAI. I didn’t. The thing that stands out the most to me was the staff at HQ in Abbotstown and the work they put in. It’s unheralded, people don’t get to read about it but it’s quite phenomenal and they’ve had to do that for some time now.” 

On negative publicity they received during the tenure, he said:

“It was to be expected. Now I could have absolutely charged back every time but that’s not what we were there for. We were just there to do what it said on the tin and get the thing in better shape. 

“The fact that the vote went the way it did and it was so emphatic and people understand the need for change. You’ll see it more in time when the new permanent CEO starts to put his or her plans into place. You’ll have committees that will be made up differently than they have in the past and over time we’ll answer that for definite.” 

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