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'I'd welcome a lift to 18' - Niall Quinn in favour of Brexit increase to age UK clubs can sign Irish youths

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Premier Division players, from left, Conor Davis of Cork City, Ciaran Kilduff of Shelbourne, Dave Webster of Finn Harps, Ian Bermingham of St Patrick's Athletic, Ronan Finn of Shamrock Rovers, FAI Interim Deputy Chief Executive Niall Quinn, Darragh Leahy of Dundalk, David Cawley of Sligo Rovers, Robbie McCourt of Waterford, Conor Clifford of Derry City and Danny Grant of Bohemians during the launch of the 2020 SSE Airtricity League season. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Premier Division players, from left, Conor Davis of Cork City, Ciaran Kilduff of Shelbourne, Dave Webster of Finn Harps, Ian Bermingham of St Patrick's Athletic, Ronan Finn of Shamrock Rovers, FAI Interim Deputy Chief Executive Niall Quinn, Darragh Leahy of Dundalk, David Cawley of Sligo Rovers, Robbie McCourt of Waterford, Conor Clifford of Derry City and Danny Grant of Bohemians during the launch of the 2020 SSE Airtricity League season. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Premier Division players, from left, Conor Davis of Cork City, Ciaran Kilduff of Shelbourne, Dave Webster of Finn Harps, Ian Bermingham of St Patrick's Athletic, Ronan Finn of Shamrock Rovers, FAI Interim Deputy Chief Executive Niall Quinn, Darragh Leahy of Dundalk, David Cawley of Sligo Rovers, Robbie McCourt of Waterford, Conor Clifford of Derry City and Danny Grant of Bohemians during the launch of the 2020 SSE Airtricity League season. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

NIALL Quinn says the FAI are still unsure of how Brexit rules will affect football in Ireland, but the interim CEO would welcome a situation where youngsters are unable to leave home until they turn 18.

Britain's exit from the EU has had a major knock-on effect for football in Ireland due to FIFA transfer regulations.

As it stands, teenagers are able to leave Ireland at 16 to join a club in another EU country but the age limit is 18 for a country outside the EU.

There had been an expectation that some kind of arrangement would be worked out between the UK and Ireland, yet leading English clubs now believe they will have to deal with a new reality from December 2020 - although no definitive statements have been made by the authorities.

The switch in regulations would have drastic implications for the League of Ireland and for player production in Ireland with clubs now under pressure to improve structures to ensure that the development of elite individuals is not hindered by two additional years at home.

Quinn indicated at a media event to launch the new SSE Airtricity League season that the FAI would not be looking to seek an exemption so Irish kids could go as before.

It's understood that FIFA would be reluctant to give special treatment to Ireland because of the precedent it might set.

"There is nothing certain about Brexit as we know," said Quinn.

"The opportunity is that we must put in place a structure for our good young players that doesn’t just help them with their football but with their education so if are holding onto them longer, we’re sending over qualified young men.

"I’ve seen too much heartache with players going over without an education and coming back. Some got playing in League of Ireland and football stayed as a staple of their being. But for others I’ve seen people so annoyed with the game and their problems that it cost them.

"I don't have the correct answer right now, but I would welcome a lift to the age to 18 of any player that goes over to sign full time in England."

"I want any young person who leaves here to go to England to play football to go with an education. We have to prove there is an Elite programme here that you can be proud of."

The Dubliner addressed complaints by Basketball Ireland about the deal secured by the FAI to stave off the threat of liquidation.

Ex-FAI chief Bernard O'Byrne now works for the basketball body and highlighted how they feel double standards are at play as they suffered funding cuts and job losses when they ran into difficulty in 2008.

"We have to let the people of Ireland know the importance and the value of football and the people we want to do that most with are the politicians," said Quinn.

"We don't want to go into a rivalry with other sports. Basketball Ireland are unhappy and I understand that, but I want us to be part of something with Basketball Ireland where we all go and show government how important sport is and let basketball get their funding.

"At the moment there is a bit of tit for tat and rightly so. I will remonstrate with anybody who gives out about what we got because we're handing a minimum €30m back to the exchequer in four months time (for Euro 2020).

"Connacht Rugby got €20m. I'm delighted for them. I'd love to know how they did it and I'd love to use best practice for us going forward so we can get our stadia in the same boat for better facilities.

"We can't fight with other sports. The basketball one came up and the Troika were in town and the country was on its knees. I have huge sympathy for them. My two nieces played for Ireland at that time and it was really tough.

"But it's a different landscape now. Rather than say we got this and you didn't get that...that day is gone, fighting over us and them. Let's get together and improve everyone's lot in sport."

Online Editors