Former soccer international Niall Quinn has called for the government to create tax incentives to encourage the construction of sports facilities in Ireland.
Mr Quinn, who won 92 Irish caps, said that policies should be implemented to encourage the private sector to invest in much-needed sports academies and facilities.
He said there is an under-supply of these facilities and that further grants could create an environment where it is financially viable for investors to build sporting amenities to support the development of elite sport and build healthier communities.
The former Chairman of Sunderland FC was speaking at the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) Christmas lunch in Dublin today.
Commenting at the event, Mr Quinn said, “During my time in England I have seen the difference that the availability of sports academies can make in the development of young people and how it enables them to grow and develop leadership characteristics.
"Suitable sports academies, and facilities, here in Ireland would enable young sports people to develop their skills at home without the need to go abroad and while this is not a key government commitment, it should be.
"I believe that such tax schemes could kick-start construction in an area that would not only support the quality of our sports people but also enhance community integration, cohesion and inclusivity," he said.
Jason Murphy, ACCA Leinster Chair added: “Sport is not just about national pride, it is about the health and well-being of all of society.
"Local sports facilities can provide outlets for both elite and participation focused sports people and with tried and tested tax incentive schemes there is a blue-print for government to follow which could be the catalyst for the much-needed investment in the sector,” he said.