The newly elected president of the FAI, Gerry McAnaney, says he would like to see Brian Kerr brought back into the FAI fold almost a decade and a half after he became one of the first high-profile victims of the John Delaney era.
Kerr’s contract as manager of the Irish senior team was not renewed in 2005 under former CEO Delaney, and the Dubliner was subsequently marginalised, his expertise lost to the association at a critical time for the development of the underage game and player pathway.
There were persistent calls for Kerr to be brought back on board, although nobody actually expected it to happen while Delaney was still the key figure at the association. Kerr and McAnaney are close, however, and, having beaten Sligo Rovers chairman Martin Heraghty in the election to succeed Donal Conway as president on Saturday, the former army commandant made it clear that he would like to address the situation.
He'll be more than willing, I think, to talk to the FAI. And I would certainly be willing to talk to him myself
“Brian has something to give, of course he has,” McAnaney said after his victory by 88 votes to 40 had been announced on Saturday. “I don’t have to tell you about Brian and what he has done over the years.
“I think he has said that he has no problem if somebody in the FAI comes to him; if they have a project or anything that they want him, as he would say himself, to give a dig-out with. He’ll be more than willing, I think, to talk to the FAI. And I would certainly be willing to talk to him myself.”
Speaking on Newstalk on Sunday afternoon, Kerr welcomed all of the appointments made by the association in recent weeks and came across as particularly pleased to see McAnaney take up a role.
“He won convincingly,” he said, “and I am very pleased for him because he had a long, outstanding career, not just in the army but as a football bloke. He played schoolboy football, he was a schoolboy international back at a time when we didn’t have too many schoolboy internationals. He played League of Ireland, he played Munster Senior League, played a lot of Junior football in Cork, coached at clubs, all that and then served his time as a legislator.
“He will handle the position well and he will add another layer of common sense, I think, and sharpness to the role for the next six months that he is in.”
The role of the president is to get out and spread the gospel of the FAI
McAnaney, who said he would ideally like some of those who applied to be independent directors but who were not selected approached with a view to getting them involved in other roles ("We have 180 people outside the football world who want to help us"), admitted to being in the dark with regard to a lot of the detail of the association's current plight, but a deal involving the organisation's bank, Uefa and the Government aimed at stabilising the situation is expected to be confirmed over the coming days.
The 61-year-old said that he expects to work in the role on a more or less full-time basis between now and July, when it will again be up for election at the association’s agm. He suggested that he wants to provide a bridge between the leadership of the association and the grassroots.
“One of the greatest things that I can offer is communication,” he said. “To get out to all the levels of the game and let people know where we are at. The role of the president is to get out and spread the gospel of the FAI.”
He denied, however, that the extent of the support he received underlined the ongoing division between the League of Ireland and other sectors of the game at a time when investment in the professional game was being championed by the likes of Niall Quinn.
“No, I would know myself that I would have League of Ireland club support,” he said. “There was 19 [League of Ireland] votes there, Martin got 40, so do the maths yourself. I think the League of Ireland has issues at the moment, the FAI has issues, there are things that need to be fixed at the moment but we tend to get there eventually.”