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'There's a process to be fulfilled' - Quinn says no 'red flag' but new Ruud Dokter deal not confirmed

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FAI High Performance Director Ruud Dokter. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

FAI High Performance Director Ruud Dokter. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

FAI High Performance Director Ruud Dokter. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

NIALL QUINN says there is a "process" to go through before agreement is reached on a new deal for FAI high performance director Ruud Dokter but the interim deputy CEO has indicated he sees no reason to object to the idea.

Reports that the Dutchman was set to extend his stay in Ireland by another two years drew an angry response from the Schoolboys Football Association of Ireland (SFAI) who have written to the FAI CEO Gary Owens to highlight their lack of confidence in Dokter.

Tensions can largely be traced to the introduction of national U13 and U15 leagues that angered schoolboy clubs who feel they have been cast aside in favour of the League of Ireland, while they have also taken issue with other elements of Dokter's strategy.

Quinn told LOI Weekly he wasn't privy to talks with Dokter but said: 'I read there was a contract offered. Gary Owens rang me and said 'Did you talk about it?' I don't know anything about that.'

"I think there's a conversation that started before we got there. We've had a good look at it. I don't see any reason to put a big red flag up but I do think there's a process to be fulfilled."

He acknowledged there were issues around the underage leagues and hinted that the U13 version could be vulnerable in a reboot of sorts.

"In an ideal world, we would have 13s, 14s, 15s, 16s, 17s, 18s," he said. "I'm not even so sure it will start at 13s (going forward). There needs to be a proper domestic compensation agreement for feeder clubs whose players go into the national league.

"The way the national leagues were introduced, it wasn't great. We have to build up trust again. There's definitely resentment in the area about the way that whole thing took off and that has to be repaired. But they (leagues) are an important part of League of Ireland going forward."

Quinn added that Dokter's deal gave him a big say in the appointment of U21 manager Jim Crawford, but said there was a consultation before he was ratified to take over from Stephen Kenny in the post.

"Here's a little known fact," said the interim deputy CEO. "The right to appoint a new manager was the CEO's role. The right to appoint the U21 manager was Ruud Dokter's role.

"We had spent time for preparing for the inevitable time when Stephen left. We had a real good look at what we had. When Jim Crawford's name was put in by Ruud, he wasn't insisting on it.

"We felt it was really fitting we had something we could tangibly look at to say we are all rowing the same way, that all teams would play the same, and that is the reason we didn't interfere with Ruud's ability to appoint Jim."

Meanwhile, Quinn denied reports that the FAI and the IFA had set up a steering group to discuss Kieran Lucid's All-Island league plan.

"That's not the case," he said. "It was mentioned in one of our first meetings with the 19 (LOI) clubs that it might be a thing to aim for because we like the work that's been put in.

"The next day in the paper it says 'A steering group has been set up.'

"On Kieran Lucid's proposals, we like them, we don't see them standing in the way of anything we see as progress for the league. We can certainly investigate it further.

"We want to be involved to protect the young talent we have, and the structures that would see academies and schoolboys and schoolgirls football."

Indeed, Quinn confirmed that the FAI intend to have a huge say in the direction of the domestic game going forward. A breakaway of sorts was on the agenda as the John Delaney regime crumbled, but he asserted that it would help the league to get better access to state support.

"We are following guidelines from UEFA and FIFA on that," he said.

"FIFA have spoken about certain countries where leagues broke away and problems resulted.

"We are trying to give the clubs as much say and control without putting certain constituents at risk. We want to protect what is hopefully a new dawn for Irish football once the pandemic ends.

"I think the government appreciate that and like we are there. The clubs need to get confidence from the (new) participation agreement, that's a great starting point to build a plan.

"Going forward, the government need to have a trust in what we are doing."

Irish Independent