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Chaos looms for FAI as leagues call for season change

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The DDSL winning the Kennedy Cup last summer

The DDSL winning the Kennedy Cup last summer

SPORTSFILE

The DDSL winning the Kennedy Cup last summer

Even more chaos was heaped on a battle-scarred FAI as a powerful lobby from the Dublin schoolboy network have voted to dump the summer soccer season for underage football.

And if those bodies, the DDSL (Dublin & District Schoolboy League) and NDSL (North Dublin Schoolboys/girls League) get their way and revert from a summer season to the traditional season of August to May, it would be a major embarrassment for Ruud Dokter, the FAI's High Performance Director and his Player Development Plan.

This was already a busy week for the FAI, whose access to state funding remains cut off due to Sport Ireland's unhappiness with governance and accounting procedures at Abbotstown.

The U17 European Championship finals, hosted by Ireland, begin on Friday, as UEFA have yet to confirm if former FAI CEO John Delaney will attend the tournament in his role as head of the UEFA Youth Committee.

Nominations for the two vacant, but vitally important, positions on the board of directors close today, those of Honorary Treasurer and Honorary Honorary Secretary.

Reports indicate that North East Football League official Gerry Gorman, will be proposed for the treasurer position while long-time FAI delegate Gerry McEneaney, the Armed Forces rep on the FAI board, will go forward for the secretary role.

The FAI have also started a process of what they call reform, the association confirming last week that the current board will remain in place until the AGM in late July and will not instead be replaced at an earlier EGM.

But the move by the schoolboy leagues in Dublin is significant. The established schoolboy clubs argued that the summer season was foisted upon them to suit the summer season which runs at senior level in the League of Ireland, that calendar passed down to the U13, U15, U17 and U19 leagues at SSE Airtricity League level.

But what was seen as a lack of consultation from the FAI added to frustration, and last week the DDLS and NDSL balloted their clubs to get their feelings on the season structure, with two-third voting for change.

"The main issue was the implementation of the new schedule, the season was too fragmented," Will Clarke, Director of Football Performance with Dublin schoolboy club St Joseph's Boys, told The Herald.

"It was too stop-start, there was no flow to the season, people were losing interest. If teams were not doing that well, the team could fold after the summer break, 50% of the leagues in the DDSL were not being completed, which is staggering.

"Having a two-month break in the summer, in what was a summer soccer season, made no sense.

"I don't see this as a victory for anyone, I see it as a missed opportunity for football here," he added.