League of Ireland players welcome vow by Ross to rescue 'soccer's beating heart'
League of Ireland players are welcoming a Government promise to place them at the heart of the new Football Association of Ireland (FAI).
A rescue package, with State involvement, is expected to be agreed in the next fortnight to prevent the association entering examinership or, worse still, face liquidation.
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Sports Minister Shane Ross yesterday hosted a delegation of domestic players, clubs and FAI board members at his department's headquarters on Leeson Lane in Dublin.
Among the 13-strong cohort from the Players Football Association (PFAI) was senior international midfielder Jack Byrne from Shamrock Rovers.
PFAI secretary Stephen McGuinness said he was encouraged by the sentiments of Mr Ross. "The FAI has a long road to travel and the minister agreed the League of Ireland can no longer be cast aside. There was a general acceptance from all in the room that the league will have to be run separate to the FAI," he said.
Mr Ross said the days of FAI officials sitting at the "front of the plane while our players languished in steerage is over".
"The League of Ireland is a crucial stakeholder in Irish football and a vibrant League of Ireland is essential to the future of Irish football," he said. "The league is the beating heart of soccer, and its development must be placed at the centre of the future of football in Ireland.
"The contribution of the League of Ireland to communities... can no longer be underestimated."