Saturday 14 December 2019

PFAI chief hails new relationship with FAI, but more to be done

PFAI general secretary Stephen McGuinness speaking at a press event in Abbotstown yesterday. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
PFAI general secretary Stephen McGuinness speaking at a press event in Abbotstown yesterday. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

PFA Ireland (PFAI) chief Stephen McGuinness has welcomed a thaw in relations with the FAI that has improved the conditions for out-of-work footballers facing an uncertain future this winter.

But he has called on the FAI to lower the age profile of the committees that will make decisions on the game's future in the new structure devised in response to a traumatic year.

Please log in or register with Independent.ie for free access to this article.

Log In

The PFAI's relationship with the FAI had hit rock bottom in the final months of John Delaney's tenure, even though they share the same building in Abbotstown.

However, contact between the two bodies has become normal again and the players' union are now represented on the FAI's Council after the changes brought in by the Governance Review Report.

Former Ireland international Áine O'Gorman and recently retired ex-goalkeeper Shane Supple have also taken positions on the International and Underage Committees respectively.

Decisions

The PFAI are also due to be co-opted onto a new Football Management Committee that will make a number of relevant decisions for the direction of the game.

McGuinness is concerned that the delay in the completion of a series of reports into FAI affairs has prevented the committees from getting down to business.

He was also struck by the contrast between Supple and O'Gorman and the candidates put forward by other constituencies. "We are all eager to get them (committees) up and running. The reports - it's hugely frustrating that it's taken this long.

"You need younger people involved too. I'm 46 and I didn't think I was equipped to go on the committees because I felt it should be someone closer to the game than me, such as Shane and Áine.

"I look at some of the other people they are selecting to go on the committees and the age profile is off the charts. There's a lot of people who've been there for far too long and that needs to change."

McGuinness has welcomed the FAI support for their annual training camp in the form of the use of facilities and other equipment. He estimates that it will save them around €5,000 that they had to spend last year when they were persona non grata.

Bohemians legend Derek Pender will move to the next stage of his career after hanging up his boots last month by taking control of the squad of free agents which will train and play games between now and the end of December.

McGuinness says that the support of the FAI is making life a "hell of a lot" easier. "If you'd said to me 12 months ago that we would be here (within FAI HQ) I'd have said you're off your rocker," he said. "There's a long way to go but at least now you have the opportunity to go and ask questions and you get a response and assistance."

The Dubliner said that there are only minor wage issues to be tidied up from the season just gone.

He wants the next step of the FAI reconciliation to involve fresh talks on the establishment of a collective bargaining agreement that would set minimum standards in professional contracts.

McGuinness says that a fresh discussion point concerns the issue of holiday pay for individuals on the books of 'professional' clubs that only pay 40-42-week contracts.

Their deal ends when the season ends in October but they cannot sign for new clubs until December 1. The PFAI want clubs to spread payments out to cover this period, especially given the long hours put in by players during the season.

Who is your sportstar of the year?

Vote in the Irish Independent Sport Star Awards and you could win the ultimate sports prize.

Prizes include, tickets to Ireland's against Scotland in the Six Nations, All Ireland football and hurling final tickets and much more.

Simply click here to register your vote

Irish Independent

The Left Wing: John Cooney on Ulster's European run and bouncing back from World Cup disappointment

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport