Thursday 17 January 2019

Watch: Brian Kerr challenges FAI in heated debate on Soccer Republic

Brian Kerr has questioned the FAI's running of the League of Ireland
Brian Kerr has questioned the FAI's running of the League of Ireland
Brian Kerr challenged the FAI's Fran Gavin on the running of the League of Ireland

Harry Clarke

Brian Kerr has questioned the Football Association of Ireland’s leadership in the running of the League of Ireland in a heated debate on Soccer Republic.

The FAI have been embroiled in a war of words with Derry City and St Patrick’s Athletic after the two clubs refused the €5k strategic planning grant from the Association.

It was Derry who were first to release a statement last week when they described the grant as “disgraceful and disrespectful”.

St Pat’s then followed, claiming that the “FAI had utterly failed the domestic game”. That prompted the FAI to release a statement which questioned the logic of the Inchicore club's decision.

The Association expressed their "extreme disappointment" with Pat's decision and claimed that the Saints were one of several clubs who were at a meeting last week between the Association and the Premier Clubs Association (PCA) and had "agreed to the process" of a €100k grant programme for strategic business planning be put in place for League of Ireland clubs.

Pat’s responded by insisting that their representative, Frank Kinsella, was merely at the aforementioned meeting to represent the club and bring back the proposals to the Saints board who would then decide on next steps.

Fran Gavin
Fran Gavin

The debate gathered momentum last night when Brian Kerr and the FAI’s Fran Gavin appeared on Soccer Republic with Stuey Byrne and host Tony O’Donoghue.

Gavin kicked off proceedings BY reiterating the FAI’s narrative that the St Pat’s statement was “disappointing” and stating the Saints “were part of the process.”

Gavin insisted that a strategic plan will cost anything from “around €3k upwards”.

Kerr, however, questioned the implementation of strategic plans and asked whether the money would be better spent on investing in people to promote the league and develop the commercial side of the league.

"The frustrations levels across the league are remarkable,” said Kerr.

“The frustration levels about the supporters about the facilities, the lack of facilities for women, for females going to matches, the pitches, the dressing rooms are desperate.

“All around the country there are ferociously bad facilities and there is nothing being done about it for years and years.

"Talking about strategic planning now for five years time is a load of bunkum. "The 100k is a pittance in terms of the money the FAI are getting in.

"Where is the leadership in the FAI in relation to the league?" 

Gavin responded: “This is the first step on a process we are going with the clubs. We have been in talks with the clubs for the past seven months. The talks have been very productive.”

Kerr asked why all this is only coming to fruition now, and should the FAI not have engaged in talks with the League of Ireland clubs long before seven months ago.

The former Ireland boss also suggested that the FAI uses the participation agreement “as a muzzle on the clubs” adding that the “clubs are afraid to challenge the FAI”. 

One point that seemed to really irk Kerr was when Gavin suggested that the FAI have introduced “an atmosphere to allow the likes of Shamrock Rovers get into the group stages of the Europa League”.

A livid Kerr responded: “You created that atmosphere?. The clubs, the manager created the atmosphere with respect.

Watch the full clip here:

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