Tuesday 25 October 2016

FAI have a plan but what is it?

FAI CEO John Delaney Photo: Sportsfile
FAI CEO John Delaney Photo: Sportsfile

The FAI launched their 10-year strategic development plan at a big do in Abbotstown yesterday. I'd love to tell you all about it but I can't. I wasn't invited along.

In fact, I didn't even know it was happening. Very few did.

In a long career as the Herald's football correspondent, I have ever seen anything like this.

The exclusion of one hack from a football gig wouldn't amount to a hill of beans in the great scheme of things but for the fact that the same fatwa applied to many others who write about football for a living in this country. And about news.

It would appear that relations between the print industry and football's ruling body in Ireland are now in such a bad place that they can't bear the sight of us.

Only some hand-picked media outlets were honoured by an invite to the event which was well-attended by all the great and good.

From a media perspective and with the viewing public in mind, the people best placed to assess the merit of the plan and disseminate its contents to the wider public, which is our job, were excluded from a big, big FAI event.

Why this happened is anybody's guess. The FAI gained nothing and lost the chance to show what they've been doing and what they want to do until 2026.

It follows a pattern in recent years though. Information is tightly controlled in Abbotstown which is fair enough, but this is ridiculous.

The bottom line is that hundreds of thousands of football fans and footballers will have a less than complete idea of where the FAI wants to take the game for the next decade.

It will trickle out in dribs and drabs via websites and when sports departments catch up, but by then it will have lost whatever impact the FAI wanted to make.

It's quite bizarre. There was no explanation, in fact, nothing at all about any announcement, imminent or otherwise.

The first we heard about it was a short bulletin from RTE and much later in the day, an email dropped into my Google inbox from Abbotstown with a very long document attached. A very long document.

Given the pressure of deadlines, it wasn't possible to digest any of the detail and the best I could do was give it a skim for anything of great importance.

Essentially, everything is great and the next decade will be even better.

Perhaps that's a tad vague and not a very useful summary but hey, that's what happens when you're sitting at home when a press conference is going on and don't get the chance to ask questions.

That couldn't be it, surely. It's hardly possible that the FAI didn't want anyone asking questions?

In other news, the FAI decided to vote for Gianni Infantino, the UEFA candidate for the FIFA presidency and Robbie Keane and lads know how much they'll be getting from the Euro pot of gold.

I got that in an email too.

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