Griffin says Quinn league proposals must be endorsed by FAI
Former Ireland striker looking to improve structures at clubs in Airtricity League
Minister of State for Sport Brendan Griffin speaking at the Sport Ireland announcement on funding for 2019. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
Minister of State for Sport Brendan Griffin has suggested that Niall Quinn will have to persuade the FAI to endorse his proposals for improving the Airtricity League before the government would seriously consider acting on them.
The former Republic of Ireland striker says he has put together a group of business people and other high-profile individuals willing to get involved in bringing his ideas to fruition.
Quinn has suggested that he wants to raise the funds required to provide clubs in the league with academies and to put structures in place to ensure players who did not go on to enjoy a professional career were guaranteed the opportunity of a third-level education.
He has also hinted at the formation of an outside company that might, if the clubs agree, actually take over the running of the league. The FAI have been in talks with the league’s clubs for a couple of years on and off over the establishment of new governance structures, but the two sides have been unable to settle on an agreed formula.
Quinn believes that the league could generate substantially increased revenues if independent but wants government backing – either in the form of grant funding or tax breaks for companies willing to donate – to support the academy aspect of his plan.
He said last month that he hoped to get to the stage where he had clear political backing for the idea before going to the FAI. But speaking at an event on Wednesday where levels of government funding of the various sports organisations for 2019 were revealed, Griffin gave the impression that the department would only be open to proposals which arrived on its desk with the association’s backing.
“I’m always interested in new ideas,” said Griffin, “but the FAI are the national governing body in this country for football and it’s a matter for that national governing body to address, [it’s for the association] to deal with Niall Quinn.
“It is not for the Department of Sport to deal with the sport’s internal issues. The way we operate with any sport is that the national governing body is tasked with governance for that sport.”