Nearly 10 months after consultant Declan Conroy delivered his report on the League of Ireland, John Delaney admits he is unhappy at the slow rate of progress in acting on its findings and recommendations.
“It’s not going at the pace I would like,” says the FAI chief executive. “But still there are regular meetings between the clubs and the Association. I’m due to sit down with Michael Cush (the barrister representing the clubs) the week before the AGM (on July 30) and I think we’ll see real progress.
“The League matters, it’s important to the Association and to me and it’s hugely important to the progress of our game — but there’s a collectiveness about it. Sometimes I feel it’s ‘what are the FAI going to do?’ in a singular way. The Conroy Report outlines there’s a collectiveness above everybody in the game to bring the League to the next step. And I want the clubs, as well as the Association, to take the next step together.”
Delaney says he still backs the report’s recommendation for a revamped SSE Airtricity League to be in place for next season. “My own view is you would like to have a new structure next year but it’s not something John Delaney is going to force through,” he said. “It’s something the clubs have to step forward with us and agree that path with us.”
More immediately, Delaney hopes solutions can be found to the problems at cash-strapped Athlone Town and Waterford United. “I’m waiting on reports from Peter McLoone and Ned O’Connor in terms of Athlone and Waterford and their situations. The FAI can do so much and wants to take the next step with the clubs but when there are issues locally — when a chairman decides he wants to leave a club and no longer fund it, it’s very difficult for the Association to deal with that.
“But hopefully, the findings from both those men show a pathway forward for both clubs. Like what I did in Galway a couple of years ago when we met all the different stakeholders and found a path for Galway football.”
Meanwhile, Declan Conroy has been invited to conduct a review of Ireland’s involvement at Euro 2016. Although noting there seems a high level of satisfaction with how the month went for the Irish squad, staff and fans in France, John Delaney says: “I’ve asked Declan to come in and analyse how the tournament went administratively and see are their learnings for the Association to improve upon for the next time we qualify.”
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