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Quinn: 'If governance proposals aren't followed I'd be afraid of where Irish football goes next'

The former Ireland international went on to say that constructive talks had been held between his consortium and League of Ireland clubs.

Niall Quinn (file pic)
Niall Quinn (file pic)
Image: PA Archive/PA Images

NIALL QUINN HAS expressed his concern at the future of direction of Irish football if governance reform proposals aren’t implemented within the FAI.

Upcoming AGM and EGMs have once again thrust Irish football’s governing body back into the spotlight after months of controversy which resulted in former CEO John Delaney stepping away from his position – instead taking up a newly formed role as executive vice-president of the organisation.

FAI board members were this year publicly questioned by an oireachtas committee and have been under constant scrutiny over how the organisation is run. A series of controversies stemming from a €100,000 bridging loan made by Delaney to the organisation offered insight into how the association operates.

Speaking to FAI TV yesterday following a meeting with League of Ireland clubs, the former senior international expressed his concern over the future direction of the sport in this country.

“[The clubs] appeared content at this point that we’re not there to take something from them,” he said. “We’re using our skillset to enhance in the future what they have.

“How we can best do that is by maybe being part of an FAI Independent Board if that’s what comes out of the proposal approval.

“If the proposals aren’t brought through I’d be very afraid of where Irish football goes next.”

Quinn has been an outspoken critic of the FAI since the beginning of the association’s turbulent period. 

The former Ireland striker also commented on what he described as constructive discussions with clubs following the future of the domestic league.

The 52-year-old has been pushing to help reform how Irish football is organised at club level – setting out a document of targets he aims to reach and even convening a football forum last month.

“[Meeting the clubs] gave our group the chance to put a couple of misconceptions that were out there to bed,” he continued.

We got the chance to speak directly with the clubs on who we are, what are skillsets are and why we were there. [We explained] that we would only be there to help them should they want us as a resource to drive for change and better things – something I think the league is crying out for.

“I was delighted to get that chance. When you try and do it through the press or if you try keep quiet about things, it leads to some misunderstandings.

It was very good to get the clubs together and hear their pain, their worries and their fears. But also to see how positive they will be for a future be it with our resources if that is the one that’s taken or if it’s something else.

“There’s a feeling now that Irish football – particularly the league – is going one way and that’s up.”

He continued: “We’re not here to try take things from people. We’re here to say that we’re an interested group, full of people who want to put something back into the game.

We’d love to see some acceptance of our skillset and what we can achieve right through from the guys on our group who have turned small businesses into €100 million+ businesses, right the way through to Stephanie [Roche] – who’s dedication to the women’s game extends far past her own football.

“You can see how passionate she is about making women’s football as much a part of this journey.

“To get in a room to be able to show all that [...] it’s a real step in the right direction that they gave us great time.”

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