Sunday 18 March 2018

From the stands: EOC keen to attract top names to Baku

EOC president Pat Hickey
EOC president Pat Hickey
Seamus Coleman

Marie Crowe, John Greene and Seán Ryan

The executive of the European Olympic Committees (EOC) approved a funding package on Friday for each of its national associate members -- including Ireland -- in advance of their participation at next year's inaugural European Games in Baku.

The EOC has decided to divide up €2.5m equally among the 49 Olympic committee member nations and it seems certain that there will be additional funding which will reward them for sending their best athletes to the Games. This additional funding is expected to also about €2.5m, but it will be allocated based on the participant's national rankings.

"It is important to realise that there is a direct link between delivering the best possible competitors in Baku 2015 and the maximum value of funds that can be received by our members and stakeholders," said EOC president Pat Hickey.

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With the spotlight now shining firmly on the actions of the board at the Central Remedial Clinic, there was an irony in the fact that the Government chose last week to publish a report on improving corporate governance at the Irish Sports Council.

The report, by Paul Turpin, governance specialist with the Institute of Public Administration, was commissioned in the wake of a High Court action successfully taken against the council by one of its own board members. In the midst of this controversy, a number of issues around conflict of interest and governance at board level arose and Turpin has now reported back with some observations and recommendations.

It's all very practical and sound stuff, and there is an acknowledgment that the council's existing procedures "correspond already with the main principles of good governance," a fact welcomed by chairman Kieran Mulvey in a letter to the minister.

At this remove, it is easy to argue that the matter should never have been allowed to escalate in the manner it did last year, but you have to wonder too if the council is looking at events elsewhere and rightfully asking, 'Why us?'

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SEAMUS COLEMAN has been valued at £25m-plus by Everton manager Roberto Martinez -- but Coleman's former club, Sligo Rovers, won't benefit if such a transfer fee ever materialises.

Everton played hard ball with Sligo when they signed Coleman in January 2009, and the only add-ons they conceded, in addition to the £60,000 fee, were for a specific number of appearances. They also agreed to visit Sligo for a friendly.

The total value of the transfer to Sligo turned out to be €150,000 -- and some valuable insight into transfer negotiations. "We'll be better prepared the next time," a club source acknowledged. Hopefully, there will be a 'next time'.

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Chris Jones and Fionnuala Britton have ended their official coach-athlete relationship. The two-time European Cross-country champion has opted to take control of her own day-to-day training schedule.

Jones was appointed national endurance coach for Athletics Ireland last year and he will continue to work with Britton in this capacity. He will oversee her training blocks but will not be working with her on a regular basis.

The two parted ways after the European Cross-Country Championships last December in Belgrade where Britton finished fourth. Since then she came fourth at the Antrim IAAF International Cross-country and second in the Great Edinburgh Cross-Country International.

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If the MLS is good enough for David Beckham and Robbie Keane, then it is good enough for Irish referee Alan Kelly. On Friday, he left Ireland to take up a new job as assistant training and development manager with the Professional Referee Organisation (PRO) in the US.

His refereeing career started in local football in Cork and he progressed to the League of Ireland and onto the FIFA panel. He has officiated in Champions League, Europa League and international games.

Irish Independent

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