Ex-Ireland international, Niall Quinn gave his despondent thoughts on the current state of the FAI during Wednesday’s Champions League coverage on Virgin Media Sports.
The Association has come under intense scrutiny over the last few months which has resulted in numerous Oireachtas Committees, lengthy statements and, ultimately, the resignation of former CEO and Executive Vice President John Delaney.
Quinn, who is constantly linked with an executive position in the organisation, was asked by host Tommy Martin, if he would like to get involved now in the setup.
“I don’t think it’s moved that far at all,” he began.
“It’s been a bit of a let down over the last number of months, particularly when the governance review group had this chance to change the game, the dynamic of the game by putting together, a new look FAI, which sadly hasn’t happened.
"Donal Conway mentioned the two of us will be old and grey before the FAI changes."
Niall Quinn met Donal Conway over the weekend.
The FAI President admitted change "will be a slow process" at the FAI.
— Virgin Media Sport (@VMSportIE) October 2, 2019
“So the fact that eight of the board members we allowed come from within the game and there were council members all around, voted those eight in and there’s only four independents to go in and try to make things work and be suddenly different. It’s not going to happen now”
The former Ireland frontman, expressed his frustrations at how slow the reform process has been in the FAI and spoke about having a very civil conversation with FAI President Donal Conway at the weekend.
“He more or less admitted that it’s going to be a slow process. And my point without being overbearing, is why does it have to be a slow process, can’t we take the game by the scruff of the neck and change it.
The Dubliner offered his ideas on what could be done to help change the organisation, outlining that the board needs “independent members” who will protect the game.
“Give six, seven, eight independent board seats to brilliant, dynamic people who will still protect the game, they’ll protect the schoolboys, they’ll protect the junior leagues, they’ll protect all the places that are covered, the League of Ireland. Given that the people that should be coming in now and running that organisation, people with brilliant commercial experience with great enterprise building behind them”
“So that a whole industry in this country go to the place it deserves because football is very important, that’s why it’s big news. That’s why it’s on the front pages of the paper and on the back pages of the paper.
“It is massive, but I will still point back to say that it is in the dark ages and why should we wait so long? I’m heartened in one way that there is still more to come and that the end of the FAI sort of debacle from the past is not over, and maybe things will change quickly when that happens. That will be a hope. But of course that remains to be seen“
Quinn seemed frustrated with the lack of urgency with restructuring the organisation, “I was not interested in taking part in this slow process, none of the people that I was working with, who we’d made representations to Sport Ireland, we’d made representations to government to see what exactly could be achieved and the slow process disrupts all that.”
Ever the diplomat, Quinn went on to say, “with the greatest respect to Donal Conway and the team in there, they will try and change but they will only change in the old FAI way, which has probably never happened before. So it’s treacle, it’s going way too slow.
“The governance review group were the people who I think let down the opportunity for the game to develop much more quickly and to turn a corner, and put a talk of John Delaney in the background, because we could be already onto something exciting with a board that could have been created out of brilliant dynamic people with great interest for the game but have the expertise to bring it to a whole new level. Sadly Donal Conway would admit this, we when I spoke to him. It’s going be a slow change”
Quinn vehemently disagreed with Conway’s assessment that “the two men will be old and grey by the time they see proper changes” outlining that he feels it could have been done “a lot quicker.”