Niall Quinn has called for Irish sporting bodies to present a united front in the quest for increased government funding after Basketball Ireland called foul on the rescue package for the FAI.
Yesterday, the Board of Basketball Ireland charged that “double standards may be at play for sports that fall outside what are considered the popular sports”. Referencing its own financial difficulties in 2008, the Board said in a statement:
“We found ourselves with an unexpected black hole of debt and financial penalties totalling €1.5m. At our darkest time, a similar agreement to that which was awarded last week would have considerably changed the trajectory of Basketball Ireland, and would have proven to be a lifeline.”
Speaking today at the launch event for the 2020 SSE Airtricity League Season, the FAI’s new interim Deputy CEO responded to the criticism.
“We don’t want to go into rivalry with other sports,” said Quinn. “Basketball Ireland are unhappy and I understand that. But I want to be part of something with Basketball Ireland where we all go and show government how important sport is. So that Basketball Ireland get their funding and we get far more funding.
“I will remonstrate with anybody who gives out about the money we got – because we’re handing €30 million minimum back to the Exchequer in four months’ time (from Ireland’s hosting of Euro 2020 games).
“Connacht Rugby got €20 million. Delighted for them. Would love to know how they did it. Would love to use best practice for us to go forward so we can get our stadia in the same boat, so we can get better facilities. I don’t want to give out about Connacht, I don’t want to give out about the fact that they won’t be repaying the Exchequer in June with a huge profit.
“What I want to do is speak to them and see how they did it. How can we all do it together? Can we find a forum where sport comes at government and continuously reminds government of its value. We’ve seen the results of the social and economic research showing what football does for this country. Conveniently forgotten by most people. And just because we got the support we got, it doesn’t mean I’m not going to keep that message going out there now.
“We can’t fight with other sports. With Basketball Ireland, the troika was in town at the time, the country was on its knees and I’ve huge sympathy for them. My two nieces played for Ireland at that time and it was really tough. But it’s a different landscape now and rather than say ‘you got this and we didn’t get that’ – that day is gone. The day of fighting over the GAA, the day of us and them, giving out about rugby – let’s get together and improve everybody’s lot in sport.”