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