Friday 28 July 2017

Delaney looks for unity to help sort out league's issues

FAI chief executive John Delaney. Photo: Sportsfile
FAI chief executive John Delaney. Photo: Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

FAI chief executive John Delaney expects clarity on the future direction of the League of Ireland by the New Year but says there is work to do before the renovation of Dalymount Park kicks off.

A new look for the iconic Phibsborough venue has been tied in with Ireland's staging of four Euro 2020 games with saving Dalymount flagged as one of the 'legacy projects'.

The funding comes from Ireland, however, and Dublin City Council's purchase of the ground from Bohemians has cleared the path for a partnership with the FAI, Bohs and Shelbourne which will see the two Dublin clubs play out of a spruced-up stadium.

Delaney suggested yesterday that the boxes that now need to be ticked are issues with the neighbouring shopping centre - which also requires redevelopment - and the confirmation of funding plans that were put in place by the former Minister for Sport Paschal Donohoe.

"There is a grouping set up between Dublin City Council, the clubs and the FAI to look at what sort of feasibility plans could be done in terms of an 8-10,000-seater stadium," he said.

"There is a budget line that Paschal Donohoe put in that Dalymount will be supported. There is no figure put on that. So that sort of detail has to be worked on in the next 12 months. You would hope that Dalymount Park would either be completed or nearly completed by 2020."

Settled

By then, the domestic league is due to have settled into a structure that is down to be put in place from the 2018 season.

We have been here before, of course, and there are a variety of different opinions about the solution.

The FAI-commissioned Conroy Report leaned towards a 10-team top flight while clubs have other ideas about the way to go.

They also hired a barrister, Michael Cush, to represent them in talks with the FAI about the next phase and financial matters.

Another element added into the mix is the FAI's decision to appoint an overseas firm to put together what Delaney described as an 'international brand report' which was presented to the FAI's board this week.

"It's very impressive," said Delaney. "We're working with Michael Cush and the clubs in terms of the Conroy Report as well. The discussions (with Cush) are taking a bit longer than we'd like, but it's important to get it right

"Those pieces of the jigsaw can only lead to an improved league and we'll be very happy either before Christmas or January to make some really positive announcements."

Meanwhile, Delaney confirmed that the FAI have made applications to UEFA to stage either a U-17 or U-19 European Championships on Irish soil.

Irish Independent

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