Tuesday 22 January 2019

'This is a now or never moment' - Niall Quinn's €40m masterplan to overhaul structure of Irish game

Former striker wants state funds to create new academies and insists 'it's now or never'

Niall Quinn. Photo: Brian McEvoy
Niall Quinn. Photo: Brian McEvoy
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Niall Quinn says he has been contacted by interested parties who want to get behind his plan to create new academies for every League of Ireland club with the help of state funding.

But the former Ireland striker is yet to speak with anybody from the FAI and says he favours getting the government on board before presenting a proposal to the football authorities.

Quinn believes that a figure in the region of €40m - that's €2m per club - would be required to give every club an academy and his argument is that proper education should be at the centre of any plan.

He feels that an independent league - free from FAI control - should offer a viable alternative to sending kids away to England at 16.

The 52-year-old also believes that a new structure should target overseas talent to lift standards and generate funds.

Quinn favours tax breaks to encourage investment and get the idea off the ground and indicated that Red Strike - an Irish-led company which has created academies in Vietnam and South Africa - are an example of one group that wants to come into the market here.

"Privately, I've had some fantastic people get in touch with me; lovers of the game who really want to see the industry improve here," he said.

"I've spoken to the Red Strike guys and we see this as a now-or-never moment to think differently.

"I look at tax breaks. We've an awful lot of multi-national companies here who do big CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) plays so why couldn't it be up to football to catch up with other sports? Am I mad? Maybe. These are thoughts and ideas and we may get a white paper together in time. Some ideas have started to come out. And if nothing else, this will bring awareness that our industry needs to alter here.

"I'm not trying to form a business. I don't want to be chief executive of the FAI, but what I want to do is to get the debate going.

"I feel I've other people to start asking the questions with me and if we can get something solid I'd love to knock on John Delaney's door and say, 'Come on, let's see this.' And I know John, he would entertain me."

Quinn also wants to tap into immigration investment schemes to make it easier to bring in foreign players and spread them around - possibly even with a view to utilising residency rules so they could one day play for Ireland.

Irish Independent

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