Sunday 18 March 2018

'The FAI has utterly failed the domestic game' - St Pats decline FAI's €5k strategic grant

FAI Chief Executive John Delaney
FAI Chief Executive John Delaney
Fran Gavin Newsdesk Newsdesk

FAI Director of Competitions Fran Gavin has defended the controversial €100k Strategic Plan funding for the 20 clubs in the SSE Airtricity League.

Described this evening by former Ireland boss Brian Kerr as "ridiculous" and "Mickey Mouse stuff", Derry City Chairman Sean Barrett has said that his club would not be availing of the €5,000 grant calling it 'disrespectful'.

In a statement this evening, St Patrick's Athletic said they would not accept the €5,000 either.

"The board of St Patrick's Athletic FC has decided that it will not accept the offer of 5,000 euro made by the FAI towards the expenses of each club in preparing a 5 year plan.

"The board's decision followed a report by its General Manager on the meeting with the FAI at which this proposal was made by the Association and the board's decision acknowledges the lead given by the board of Derry City FC, a fellow member of the Premier Clubs Alliance (PCA), on the issue.

"The board of SPAFC wants its decision to serve as a clear message to the FAI that it has utterly failed in its responsibility to the domestic game and to those clubs who, in spite of its indifference, have managed to keep some semblance of professionalism within football in Ireland.

"The board is of the view that the Association's move and its timing was deliberately aimed at encouraging non Premier League clubs to stand with the current administrators of our league as the PCA set about its agenda of change. That it would do so in a week when Cork City FC and particularly Dundalk FC performed on the European stage at a level and with a verve that belies the manner in which they and the other clubs have been treated, is particularly disappointing.

"The board of SPAFC is committed to the establishment of a strong PCA which must be focused on rooting out the culture of disinterest that has prevailed throughout the FAI's management of our League for too many years. Offering the proverbial "crumbs from the rich man's table" will not shift the resolve of those clubs and those individuals determined to create a properly funded and professionally managed league in Ireland."

In a video released by the Airtricity League this evening, Mr Gavin sought to clarify the purpose of the grant.

"Since the Conroy Report was launched in September, the association has been sitting down with representatives of the clubs and discussing ways of improving the league and the future structure of the league and the clubs," he said.

"One of the main highlights of the Conroy report, which is recognised by everybody, is the lack of business plans within the clubs or strategic plans.

"Like any business, it's prudent to have a business plan.

"In order to assist that process with the clubs, we offered €100,000 funding to assist in the process of putting those plans together basically.

"It's like anything, if you go for a loan in a bank, the first thing a bank is going to ask you is 'show us the business plans?'.

"Every year, we meet with the clubs prior to the season starting and at those we asked those clubs 'do you have these business plans?' and the majority of the clubs say 'No, they haven't'.

"That's not a criticism of the clubs at all, the way it is at the moment, they are working on a very short term basis.

"Some of the clubs have started plans but the main thing is, what's the long term future of the clubs?

"Where is the club going to be in five years in certain areas? Areas like on the pitch which is player development, coach development, facilities. The governance of the club and other areas they have to look at, the business side of the club and where are they in their community, how are thye going about themselves in the community and what is the plan for that. How are they going to map that  out.

"Also social media, how are they going to interact around social media, which is really important .

"Lots of different areas that are important to the business of a club. We have 20 different businesses in the SSE Airtricity League and we're trying to assist them all in achieving the putting together of those plans.

"When those plans are all finalised with the clubs, myself, the CEO of the FAI John Delaney and Eamonn Naughton the chairman of the SSE Airtricity League will sit down with each club and go through each plan with them and see how we can assist them in achieving those plans.

"Each club will have different ambitions and goals. If you take at the moment, Dundalk their ambition today is to get into the group stage of the Champions League and to develop the club further and to look at the facilities and to look at their players pathway and to prepare for that.

Finn Harps would have a different set of goals. A new stadium coming down the road, so they would see it from a different place.

"We need to work with each club when they have credible plans in place and see how we can bring those plans into fruition.

"That will mean working with stakeholders like local authorities, government agencies to see what funding would be available. To work with their fans and volunteers, all different aspects of the club and how we can achieve that."

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