Impending changes at the top of the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) may open the door for former Ireland striker Niall Quinn to take up a role in Irish football, several well-placed sources believe.
The former Arsenal and Sunderland player is a close ally of Goodbody Stockbrokers managing director Roy Barrett, who is close to accepting the role of indepedent chairperson at the association.
Mr Quinn, who won 92 caps for the international team in a career that ran from the 1980s to the 2000s, is not thought to be interested in the role of chief executive on a permanent or interim basis, believing a corporate governance expert best suited for the role.
However, the Dublin native’s high profile may seen him targeted for a public-facing role focused on reforms aimed at improving the image of the game and reinvigorating the grassroots of Irish football. Such a role could also strengthen the case for the reintroduction of state funding, which has been suspended since a scandal over corporate governance at the FAI erupted last spring.
In May of last year Mr Barrett was named as part of a "Football in Ireland Visionary Group" chaired by Mr Quinn, which produced a document detailing proposals for governance, welfare and commerical changes at the FAI.
Mr Quinn is thought to be interested in a voluntary role with the association, which could also entail working on the introduction of a community-focused entity modeled on The Foundation of Light, a charity set up by Sunderland FC.
Such a platform would be focused on encouraging youth activity in a range of educational and socially beneficial activities, particularly in underprivileged areas, through football.
He is also thought to be interested in shaking up the League of Ireland, as well as lobbying the government on specific initiatives he has worked on, such as carving out a portion of the betting tax to fund the development of football in Ireland.
There is a growing expectation that appointments to the board could be made as soon as Wednesday evening, with the appointments committee of the FAI scheduled to meet tonight to discuss the candidacies of Mr Barrett and up to three other independent directors.
Minister for Sport Shane Ross has said that he expects the independent director roles to be filled by the end of this week.
Mr Quinn is a former chairman of English club Sunderland FC, and has forged a career in business as well as serving on the board of Sport Ireland for a time. Last year he was part of a group that proposed splitting the FAI into two separate organisations, and changing the way appointments to the board are made.