Tuesday 20 August 2019

Niall Quinn-led group takes steps in bid to take Irish football in new direction

Niall Quinn and (inset) Kieran Foley
Niall Quinn and (inset) Kieran Foley
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Former League of Ireland player Kieran Foley has confirmed that the Niall Quinn-led group which has designs on taking the domestic game in a new direction has made a submission to the FAI's Governance Review Group.

And Foley, who has gained substantial experience in sport and business since hanging up his boots, has said he would answer a call to take a role in the FAI's future.

Quinn has put together a group of interested parties with designs to plot a new direction for the league by investing in academies in tandem with government backing for a full-time education programme to go with it.

Ex-Galway United, St Patrick's Athletic and Shamrock Rovers player Foley is a member of Quinn's team.

He has travelled extensively since finishing his football career, initially working with mobile phone provider Digicel.

Foley was involved with the establishment of the Caribbean Cricket League and has also worked with MLS clubs. He has also worked on projects with CONCACAF, and is a friend of ex-Premier League chief Richard Scudamore after partnering with him on several projects.

He is now interested in having a say in the future direction of Irish football and outlined his vision on the new LOI Weekly Podcast.

"There's no reason that we can't make something commercially viable in the league," said Foley.

"We have talented coaches here. Why do we assume you always have to be sent to foreign shores to be a better player or person or coach?"

Foley said Quinn's gathering consisted of people "with a commercial background, education, lawyers, financial people, who are passionate about the game and where it needed to be.

"We hear rhetoric and negativity about football across our country and it doesn't make sense," he continued.

"There needs to be a strong structure put together and I've been working with the group closely and we have a paper to go in to this reform committee and a hope and desire to give our input and influence on how to bring the football to the next level.

"Ireland is home to some of the biggest companies in this planet. How is it that we're not more commercially active with our football? Maybe it's because we haven't presented a strong enough plan.

"We need to commercialise our sport so we don't fall too far behind - so we don't have to continuously have to say to one individual that you're the manager of our senior team and if we don't win, then it's your fault. That's something that has to stop.

"I'm Irish and I've been in Ireland a lot in the last few years and what kills me when I go back is all the negative elements. I don't want to be the guy giving out in the stands. What I want to be is part of the solution and say, look, I've a lot of experience. Others have way more experience. Why don't we put our heads together and find a solution and present it and suggest it. If I could be part of that solution, nothing would make me happier.

"We have a very clear picture and a very clear plan. It has to start at the top with the governance."

The interview with Foley starts 15 minutes into the new LOI Weekly Podcast

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