Sunday 17 February 2019

Niall Quinn declares he has plenty of support for League of Ireland vision

Quinn's idea is to construct academies that would offer young pros full-time training here, with the guaranteed fall-back of full-time education so they have a firm Plan B. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Quinn's idea is to construct academies that would offer young pros full-time training here, with the guaranteed fall-back of full-time education so they have a firm Plan B. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Niall Quinn says he has been contacted by three prominent politicians and five leading figures in Irish universities who support his vision to reform the League of Ireland through the building of academies with state support.

The former Ireland striker spoke at a public meeting in Dublin last night where he provided an update on talks that are continuing behind the scenes with a view to putting flesh on the bones of the plan.

Quinn has been approached by a number of individuals who are interested in getting on board with his proposal.

He wants the League of Ireland to be run independently of the FAI, and he favours the creation of an academy for every senior club.

The target would be to provide an alternative for promising young players who leave for England as a teenager and return with no education.

Quinn's idea is to construct academies that would offer young pros full-time training here, with the guaranteed fall-back of full-time education so they have a firm Plan B.

He is part of a group that are discussing the idea of a fund being put in place that would pay for that education - this will be part of a pitch for state support.

The Dubliner has been heartened by the response to his recent media appearances that floated the idea with a broader committee of interested parties forming.

"I've got five heads of education from various backgrounds and universities who have got in touch with me and they are eager to give us a dual career pathway," said Quinn, who added that he made progress in meetings with government officials.

"We are limp politically. We have no power in the corridors of power but I have started to contact people who do. I've had three politicians contact me and said, 'Go for it, we'll be with you.'

Charade

"All the signs are pointing to a wind of change. I've had some great people get in touch with me, to see if they can make things happen. For me, it's not an anti-FAI charade.

"What I'm trying to do is get a louder voice, a bigger voice... or find out if it's worth having a louder voice.

"We've got companies looking at what we can do to make this attractive. I've got confidence that this is going the right way."

Quinn's ambition is to put together a package that can then be presented to the FAI as a proper alternative to the current status quo.

"I really believe the FAI have to let go of the league," he said.

"The FAI have not made the league attractive and it needs to look after itself."

Another angle in the search for state support is the government backing available to other sports, most notably the Horse and Greyhound Racing fund which ensures that those sports benefit from every bet placed on any sport in Ireland.

Quinn wants football to lobby for a piece of that pie if they can prove they are capable of providing a proper industry here that employs young professionals.

Irish Independent

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