Quinn stands firm

Niall Quinn in­sists ap­point­ing six in­de­pen­dent di­rec­tors to the board is the right step for the FAI

Irish Examiner - - News - Bren­dan O’Brien

Niall Quinn has re­it­er­ated his stance that the ap­point­ment of six in­de­pen­dent di­rec­tors to the FAI board is ab­so­lutely the right step for the as­so­ci­a­tion as it seeks to get back on its feet.

The de­ci­sion to ap­point six in­de­pen­dents to sit along­side the same num­ber from within the ‘foot­ball fam­ily’ has riled some sec­tions of the game here, with fears that it would lead to a loss of in­flu­ence and con­trol.

The in­crease in the num­ber of in­de­pen­dents from four to six was part of a Me­moran­dum of Un­der­stand­ing signed with the Gov­ern­ment back in Jan­uary as part of a fi­nan­cial res­cue pack­age, and it will be among the pro­posed re­forms to be dis­cussed by the FAI Coun­cil this Fri­day. An EGM is ex­pected in the com­ing weeks.

Quinn’s view is, and al­ways has been, that things had to change, given the mess in which the FAI found it­self af­ter the John De­laney era. The Dubliner says that hav­ing in­de­pen­dent di­rec­tors on sport­ing boards is par for the course now and be­lieves that this does not need to be a ‘them and us’ sce­nario.

“There needs to be skillsets in ev­ery good mod­ern or­gan­i­sa­tion,” he said. “Al­low­ing a big­ger pool with greater skillsets with less con­flict is al­ways the cor­rect path­way to aim for. I don’t think there’s been enough dis­cussed on that with peo­ple of dif­fer­ent views.”

Quinn, who has acted as in­terim deputy CEO of the as­so­ci­a­tion this year, will be part of a hi­er­ar­chy ad­dress­ing the me­dia to­mor­row when they in­tend to bring more clar­ity as to what lies ahead in a broader sense for foot­ball and the FAI, in­clud­ing his own role.

His term in that tem­po­rary role was due to last for six-month. That span of time ended a cou­ple of weeks ago, but he said yes­ter­day that he will be “around” as re­quired in the near fu­ture, though not in a con­tracted ca­pac­ity.

To­mor­row’s gath­er­ing would not be about some sort of pre-emp­tive strike prior to Fri­day’s coun­cil meet­ing, he said. There was, in­stead, a call for unity af­ter too many years of dys­func­tion — but ques­tions and crit­i­cisms re­main.

Few in Ir­ish foot­ball have been more open to change in the mod­ern FAI than Brian Kerr. He has been im­pressed with some de­ci­sions, among them the man­ner in which Stephen Kenny’s suc­ces­sion to the role of Repub­lic of Ire­land man­ager was or­ches­trated, but be­lieves the board has lacked knowl­edge about the in­tri­ca­cies of the Ir­ish game.

Kerr is com­fort­able with the view that peo­ple should not be dis­missed as a po­ten­tial di­rec­tor just be­cause they lack di­rect foot­ball ex­pe­ri­ence, but he also made the point that some­one at­tend­ing the oc­ca­sional game did not make them qual­i­fied ei­ther.

That should not be a game-breaker. There are ex­am­ples of peo­ple as­sum­ing po­si­tions on the boards of other NGBs de­spite a lack of fa­mil­iar­ity with that sport. But it is an­other of Kerr’s con­cerns that mer­its more at­ten­tion as the lat­est crit­i­cal week un­folds.

Rea Wal­she was re­cently reap­pointed as chief oper­a­tions of­fi­cer, Mark Rus­sell moved from the post of com­mer­cial di­rec­tor to that of com­mer­cial and mar­ket­ing, Mark Scan­lon is the new League of Ire­land di­rec­tor, and Ger McDer­mott is now head of grass­roots.

All were green­lit af­ter an in­ter­nal re­cruit­ment process.

“They seem anx­ious to get ex­pe­ri­ence, qual­ity, and a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive onto their board — yet within the em­ploy­ees and roles, they want to re­tain the po­si­tions from within,” said Kerr. “The re­cent jobs weren’t ad­ver­tised out­side, and I don’t think any­body from out­side was in­ter­viewed.

“I’m not sure how that fits in with gov­er­nance and Ai­dan Ho­ran’s [Gov­er­nance Re­view Group] re­port and all the new ways of go­ing about. They’ve got to fix some of that, do those things right. They’ve got to stop ap­point­ing peo­ple just from on the in­side.”

Amidst all this, more un­cer­tainty. This time in the news that an un­named Water­ford player re­ported flu-like symp­toms af­ter be­ing a non-play­ing part of the squad that faced Shel­bourne in Dublin at the week­end.

Tonight’s game be­tween Sligo Rovers and Water­ford has been post­poned as a re­sult while the club awaits re­sults on a Covid-19 test. Quinn, while ad­mit­ting it was a “blow”, said it was not an un­ex­pected de­vel­op­ment and ex­pressed the hope that the league could con­tinue.

He also said that the num­bers to have signed up for the stream­ing WatchLOI ser­vice, launched this week, were “much bet­ter than we thought”, adding that the FAI is con­trac­tu­ally obliged not to dis­close ac­tual fig­ures.

Pic­ture: Stephen McCarthy

Vir­gin Me­dia Sport an­a­lyst Niall Quinn at Vir­gin Me­dia Tele­vi­sion’s Fes­ti­val of Foot­ball that starts this week with 26 games in both the Cham­pi­ons League and Europa League all live on Vir­gin Me­dia Tele­vi­sion chan­nels.

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