The FAI has confirmed that former Republic of Ireland international Niall Quinn is to work with the association as deputy CEO in the coming months.
The association says that Quinn’s focus will be “on leading a future League of Ireland strategy, the overall development of the game in Ireland, including supporting grassroots and community initiatives together with our player pathway programmes”. He will also, it says, work to restore “key relationships and trust with key peer groups and the media”.
Quinn becomes the third member of the “Visionary” group that he assembled last year to take a key role at the association. Two weeks ago Goodbody chief executive, Roy Barrett, became chair of the organisation’s board and earlier this week another of the Dubliner’s associates, Gary Owens, was named as interim CEO.
The 53-year-old had at one stage suggested that the group would not take positions on the new board because only four of the 12 were to go to independent directors.
Attending the launch of the latest Virgin media schedule a couple of weeks ago, however, Quinn made it clear that he would be prepared to take on very much the role he has now been handed.
“I said this months ago,” he said, “that I would love to help out. If there’s a role I can be used in, in a capacity that somehow bring trust and capability from all of the stakeholders, be it from the commercial world or from the grassroots or the elite game in this country; that I can come in and champion and use what skillsets I have, I would gladly do it.”
Although the association has declined to clarify whether there is any time frame envisaged at this stage with the regard to the role, it would appear that it would be reviewed if and when Owens makes a permanent appointment.
Announcing the appointment on Thursday, Owens said: “We are really pleased that someone of Niall’s calibre is joining the team. Football is such an important game in this country at every level. Niall not only brings great insight and experience to developing the game but is passionate about football in Ireland - his energy and commitment is a great fit for the FAI as we begin reform of the organisation and look to create a better future for football in Ireland.”
Minister for Sport Shane Ross described it as “great news for Irish football,” adding that “his experience and skills will be invaluable as part of the management team to lead the reform that is so necessary within the FAI.”