Niall Quinn rules out FAI chief executive role

Three new directors will bring ‘skill sets the association has missed’, former Ireland international says

Former Ireland international Niall Quinn has welcomed the appointment of his friend Roy Barrett as chairman of the FAI board but has ruled himself out of the chief executive role.

Speaking at the launch of Virgin Media’s spring schedule, Mr Quinn said Mr Barrett and the other two directors appointed on Wednesday night, Catherine Guy and Liz Joyce “will bring skill sets to the association that it has missed”.

He believes, however, the new chief executive, who will be appointed over the coming months,will need to oversee a major restructuring – something he does not feel equipped for, although he said again that he would be happy to play a different, voluntary role.

“I have said that all along that I would love to help out, but this doesn’t need what I can offer as a CEO,” he said. “It needs a restructuring expert and somebody who can go in and really give Government confidence that the administrative side of the business is back in great shape again. That’s going to take some time.

“I’ve no idea who might end up doing it, but I wouldn’t think I have the skill set required. If there is a role I can be used in, though, in a capacity that somehow helps to restore trust from all of the stakeholders, be it from the commercial world or from the grassroots or elite game in this country, that I can come in and use what skill sets I have, I would gladly do it.”

Mr Quinn believes those running the association have accepted the scale of the problems they face and of the change that is required. Although he feels there are many hurdles to overcome as the FAI looks to put the current crisis behind it, he describes Mr Barrett as an “outstanding” appointment. Mr Barrett was part of the group fronted by Mr Quinn last year that put itself forward for a role in reforming the running of the game in Ireland.

“The mood in Citywest versus Trim [the two sessions of last year’s AGM, held five months apart] was a big turning point, the game within itself has called that enough is enough. I didn’t think the report of the Governance Review Group Board was enough, but now the board members seem absolutely intent on change, and they will led by independent directors with skill sets that haven’t been in the FAI before. I have great confidence in that,” he said.

“It [the appointment of the three new directors] is a real turning point, but it’s only just one day in time, and the problem of technical insolvency still lingers.

“But it switches things to a better narrative now, and I hope Government, Uefa and the banks feel it is a new beginning and that they can support that. There is an awful lot still to do and next Tuesday [when the Government is due to meet with Uefa about the provision of financial support to the association] is a very big day,” Mr Quinn said.