Quinn plan will soon go to FAI

Niall Quinn, spearheading plans to revamp domestic football, has had a second meeting with FAI Competitions Director Fran Gavin, and now hopes that the group the former Irish international represents will soon be in a position to put its proposals formally to the association.

Quinn plan will soon go to FAI

Niall Quinn, spearheading plans to revamp domestic football, has had a second meeting with FAI Competitions Director Fran Gavin, and now hopes that the group the former Irish international represents will soon be in a position to put its proposals formally to the association.

“In fairness to Fran they are open to having a look at what some good people are suggesting,” says Quinn. “You’re trying to package something for potential change and you just can’t go in on a whim, it has to be well prepared. We hope to present a document to the FAI soon and hopefully that will lead to a further conversation. After that, it’s up to the FAI and if they like it, or like a bit of it even, then great. Then maybe the FAI can go to the clubs.”

At the heart of the plan are proposals to expand the reach of League of Ireland clubs, especially in their local communities, while creating a domestic pathway for young players as an alternative to giving up their education too soon and leaving the country to try, against increasing odds, to forge a career in England.

“The players have to become the stars in time,” said Quinn. “Remember this is about creating better systems for players and, if they are better, they will go to England a bit later. Like the Scandinavian model where, if they leave, they get one or two million into the system. We need the other leagues to see the value of this league going up and the value of the player going up so they stop getting the likes of Seamus Coleman for 60 thousand because that doesn’t do anything for the ecosystem of the game.”

Quinn is also concerned about Irish football being adversely affected by Brexit.

“What could happen if that avenue of kids going to Tranmere and Lincoln and Port Vale stops? Then we’ve got a problem. There’s almost a duty of care to ensure a better system post-Brexit, like in all industries. So it could be a moment of opportunity. Nobody is trying to oust anybody or come in and try and steal the show. If it comes off, it’s because the FAI think it’s worthy of bringing to the clubs and that’s the way it has to be.”

Quinn is hoping for backing from Government as well as corporate investment, and suggests a betting levy to benefit football is one source of new funding which should be explored. He said that he expects to be in a position to reveal more detail about the proposals in the near future.

“We understand the clubs have enough on their plate week to week,” he said. “We’ll demystify it for them very soon. I’m sure they are wondering what it’s all about and saying ‘It’s our club’. We don’t want to step on toes but maybe, with the help of good people, we can try and make something better. It’s all about the art of the possible.”

Quinn added that, while he hasn’t spoken to Dermot Desmond, he welcomes reports that the businessman is set to make a significant investment in Shamrock Rovers.

“That would be a great boost for the game as a whole, that kind of investment from a man who has done everything that’s he done with Celtic and in the rest of his life, and who also sees a future here. That would be a great window to bring other like-minded people in and see that this thing could be ready for a step up.”

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