Former Manchester United executive recruits stars for Irish academy plan
A Dublin-born sports marketing expert has held exploratory talks with the Football Association of Ireland and Irish investors about developing a new Elite Football Academy modelled on the English Football Association's £100m national football centre.
Former Manchester United branding boss Mike Farnan has recruited former Irish football star Niall Quinn, ex-Ireland manager Brian Kerr and football legend Paul Scholes as advisers to the project, which plans to create a €30m centre to nurture and develop Irish grassroots talent with an eye to boosting national team success.
Farnan is one of the world's top sports marketing experts with an impressive track record. He has 25 years' experience of leveraging sports brands internationally, including Manchester United, Dublin GAA, Jordan Grand Prix, Ferrari, and Sunderland FC. He oversaw Man Utd's global merchandising growth from 1996 to 2001, and was responsible for opening retail stores and team-branded Red Cafes across Asia.
After launching a €30m elite football academy in Vietnam's capital, Hanoi, last year, Farnan has revealed he is in advanced talks about opening similar facilities in Lithuania, New York, Beijing, Saudi Arabia and now Ireland. "We are making great headway with all our Football Academy projects all over the world," said Farnan, who once played Gaelic football for Ballymun Kickhams on Dublin's northside.
"We opened the VPF Academy in Hanoi last year. We are in advanced talks about opening similar facilities in Lithuania, New York, Beijing, Zimbabwe and Saudi Arabia. We hope to open another two elite football academies by the first quarter of 2019 and two more in 2020. We are now exploring the idea of opening one in Ireland. This is about investing in Irish football's future. We are open minded as to where we will build it."
The Vietnam academy, which is aimed at boosting that country's World Cup hopes, was overseen by Farnan's global sports agency Red Strike Marketing and partner Football Focus Asia, and will serve as the blueprint for the planned Irish facility.
Sunday Indo Business