Saturday 25 May 2019

FAI could turn to Quinn in search for new CEO

Niall Quinn: Contender for FAI role
Niall Quinn: Contender for FAI role

Colin Young

Former Ireland international and Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn last night emerged as the favourite to become the new head of the FAI following the shock departure of John Delaney from the post.

After a day of intense rumour, Delaney stepped down from the role he has held for more than 14 years and was replaced by Rea Walshe, who will be in charge of the Association on a temporary basis while a replacement is found.

Delaney, who was at last night's win in Gibraltar for the Republic of Ireland, has been moved to a newly-created role of Executive Vice-President and will still have a major say in key decisions within the FAI. He will continue to have responsibility for jobs within UEFA and FIFA.

FAI president Donal Conway said the "new role will allow John to utilise his vast experience and connections in the world of football and will best serve the FAI as we look to the future and our new strategic plan for Irish football, which is currently a work in progress".

He added: "John will continue to represent us at UEFA level as we look ahead to next year when the Aviva Stadium will host four games at the Euro 2020 finals thanks to his influence at European level."

The move comes amid increased scrutiny of his financial relationship with the FAI after it was revealed last weekend that he had provided a loan of €100,000 to the Association in 2017 which was later repaid.

Quinn, who has been a major critic of Delaney in recent years, would suit the profile of a well-respected former international willing to move Irish football forward.

Still living in Ireland and with business interests, Quinn is understood to be interested in a senior role within the FAI and it's believed he would not rule out an approach.

"Who comes in as CEO is crucial now," said former Ireland international Stephen Hunt last night. "It needs to be a football person, someone with a proper understanding of the game. Other nations bring ex-internationals into this kind of role and that could be a positive move for the FAI."

Meanwhile, Ireland manager Mick McCarthy stated that the rumours which floated around the stadium concerning the future of Delaney, culminating in an FAI statement soon after the final whistle which confirmed that he would be replaced as head of the organisation, was not a distraction.

"No, the bloke that kept telling me I'd be sacked in the morning and that I was a wanker, he was particularly annoying but apart from that, not really," he said when asked if the issue had been a worry. "I didn't realise he knew me that well to be honest. But no, not at all. Not in the slightest."

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