FAI appoints Mark Scanlon as new League of Ireland director

FAI appoints Mark Scanlon as new League of Ireland director
Mark Scanlon presenting a trophy to WIT in 2015. Picture: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

Mark Scanlon is the new League of Ireland director, FAI staff have been informed by interim chief executive Gary Owens.

The Meathman has worked in the organisation as national coordinator of schools and third-level football. He earned his promotion after a selection process open solely to internal candidates.

It creates uncertainty over the future of current competitions director Fran Gavin, whose original role of League director when recruited in 2006 was later expanded to competitions director.

Scanlon’s job specification entails just leading a department dedicated to the domestic league.

He takes over just as the concept of creating the All-Island League finds renewed focus after all bar two Irish League clubs last week notified UEFA of their desire to explore the venture. Several League of Ireland clubs, including Derry City, are in favour of the project.

Niall Quinn had been tipped to apply for the League of Ireland role but declined amid recent controversies over the league’s post-Covid-19 resumption plans.

St Patrick’s Athletic owner Garrett Kelleher complained to board members that interim chief executive Quinn and Owens had “failed and failed badly” in the process of convincing clubs to restart.

Quinn’s future is also in jeopardy, as his contract expires this month and there’s no place for a deputy at the new nine-person executive team table. The Memo of Understanding (MoU) agreed with the state also throws doubts over the need for such an employee.

The executive will include, for the first time, a spot for the senior team manager. Despite Stephen Kenny last week insisting he didn’t have such a title, Owens today repeated Kenny’s status as International Football Director.

The other beneficiary of the reshuffle is Ger McDermott.

Like Scanlon, he’s made his way through the ranks at Abbotstown, most recently to the role of Club and League Development manager, and now takes on the mantle of Grassroots director in place of Tom O’Shea.

McDermott was considered close to ex-chief executive John Delaney but his review of amateur football early last year failed to get sufficient buy-in from the relevant stakeholders.

Also deemed an ally of Delaney’s was Rea Walshe, who retains her post as Chief Operations Officer. She held the chief executive brief for two months following Delaney’s demise in March 2019 and was the face of the association’s governance crusade in the Delaney years.

However, recent confirmation in the Mazars Report that the trained solicitor was paid by Delaney for external work, contrary to Law Library rules, made her vulnerable.

Mark Russell retains the title of Commercial and Marketing Director after having to reapply for his own job.

All candidates were last week interviewed by Owens and HR specialist Yvonne Clancy.

Owens insisted he’ll field questions on the appointments from staff next week as they seek to move onto the next phase of the strategic plan.

The interim chief executive has put his hand in the ring with recruitment firm appointed Odgers Berndtson to take the job on a permanent basis.

The annual salary on offer is just over half of the €360,000 basic Delaney earned.

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