Friday 24 November 2017

Niall Quinn: I'd never lead the FAI because of the politics

Top clubs will look elsewhere unless there's change

Sky Sports pundit Niall Quinn.
Sky Sports pundit Niall Quinn.
Niall Quinn and Chris Kamara were in Dublin to launch Sky Sports’ coverage of the Premier League which begins on Saturday. Sky Sports will show every team live by the end of September and the schedule features 14 matches involving last season’s top four.

It's not that Niall Quinn is saying anything radical. He's been saying for some time that we need to do things differently in Ireland and many agree.

We've had too many seasons now when even a forensic search cannot produce any evidence of Irish involvement in the Premier League title race or even the Champions League shake-up.

It was ironic that he should develop his theme at SKY's Premier League 2015/2016 launch. After all, many traditionalists, including David Moyes by the sound of things, believe that the money that broadcasting giant brought to the table has helped ruin the game.

Some blame the Premier League for many of Ireland's woes too and that's just lazy.

"That's a different thing.When you look at the percentage of players compared to fifteen years ago, in terms of foreign players, of course it's up but the quality is up," said Quinn.

"What I remember from our first few years in the PL is that we were getting B list foreigners coming in and getting twice as much money as the players that were in there for the home countries. "

"That was all very fine until you got up to the top four and six who were able to attract the bigger ones. The issue changes when you have a team down the bottom that is getting so much money next year for staying up."

"The increase next year is incredible so what do you do to try and get it. Do you get the A list foreigner? No. Do you pay too much for the B list? Definitely. "

"For me that's that bit down the end, and all those people who aren't paying for top six teams who the top six won't buy and never will buy, they're the ones who I feel are holding up the development of the home countries and their players."

"They are sitting on the contracts and they'll make their way through the game and come and go. It's incredible the amount of players I would put into that category. "

So there's more too it than the simple explanation offered by some; that Ireland is simply not producing the talent and Quinn gets that.

He's been around the block with the FAI and has clearly thought about it a great deal. He blames the politics.

"I was approached by the FAI to help with the Under-21s when I first came home and at the last minute that was stopped and I never really got an explanation as to why it was stopped," said Quinn.


"I was asked to sit on a panel to help the League of Ireland and after one meeting the Sports Council rang me to say there were objections to me being on the group, so I left."

"That was about 10 years ago. I then attempted to do something with a group of people with Shamrock Rovers but it wasn't entertained. So then I went to Sunderland and did what I did."

"Now I'm doing the punditry. I'm in no position to do anything with the League of Ireland or whatever. I was asked my honest opinion about its (League of Ireland) state in a radio interview and it sparked a reaction. "

"I think you need a belief that you can package this in such a way that you can bring this to the outside world. And by the outside world I don't mean bringing it to the UK."

"Sports content is becoming a huge thing for TV companies around the world. I spent a bit of time in Africa a few years ago and football is just off the wall, it's off the radar, it's incredible the passion and the love they have for football."

"And I know that there would be a company there that would hold rights in every country that they could go and do a deal with and say there's where Roy Keane played' or 'here's Damien Duff playing in it'. You know, we watch Australian football over here."

He has ideas Quinn and who knows, he might even have some good ones.

Maybe some of them will be mentioned in League of Ireland review by Declan Conroy, which is due shortly.

There is some hope that it might deliver something tangible rather than aspirational.

Was he approached by anyone about the review?

"I spoke to him very briefly," said Quinn.

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