It seems if you pick up a newspaper or turn on the TV these days you’re likely to be reading or listening to Niall Quinn talk about the future of the League of Ireland. On Monday night if you went down to the local pub in Killester, you could have even seen Quinn discussing the game in this country.
The former Ireland international was part of a panel discussion at the ‘Making politics work for football’ public meeting organised by Aodhán Ó Ríordáin.
The Labour Party Senator assembled a panel that included Irish Times football correspondent Emmet Malone, Niamh O’Mahony from the Irish Supporters Network, Deputy Secretary General of SIPTU Ethel Buckley and author of ‘Dublin-The Chaos Years’ Neil Cotter.
extratime.ie caught up with Quinn after directly the event to get a little bit more detail on the developing proposals for an overhauled League of Ireland.
The ex-Sunderland CEO talked about those from industry, third level institutes, politicians and some League of Ireland clubs that have been in touch with him to develop a blue print for Irish football.
“The good thing is we have a lot of good, talented really powerful people who have come together and want to do it for the right reasons,” said Quinn about the individuals and institutions that he is gathering around him.
“There are no agents in here hoping to capitalise on this, nobody looking to jump in and take something here. We are just looking at the issues, how can those issues be turned into something more positive.”
Quinn is looking for government to invest within the game here with the aim of putting structures in place to develop players both professionally and personally.
With only 1% of players who go to England able to make a full time living from the game, Quinn wants to see an alternative pathway with club academies in Ireland backed by public money.
“If government are putting money into the game, it has got to have education in around it. The under 13s, 15s, 17s, structure has given the League of Ireland clubs a chance.
"Guaranteeing education if things don’t work out (for players) and maybe, whatever funding comes in, set it aside so that they can have an education.
“If they make it, that is great, they get their contract and they push to play in a revamped and rejuvenated League of Ireland. It is something that I’d aspire to as a footballer and then go to England for more money.
“That is money that can go back into the system and can re-generate itself.
“I have spoken to a number of League of Ireland clubs and I didn’t reach out, all of them got in touch with me which was great. We will have one or two of them at meetings as well.
“I’m really pleased as I threw something out there and the quality of person who came back and said ‘Go for it. Is there anything that I can do?’ tells me that there is a real will out there to see the whole thing go right.”
Standing room only at our ‘Making Politics Work for Football’ meeting last night. Thanks to Niall Quinn, @EthelBuckley @emmetmalone @NewsNeil13 & @Niamh_OMahony for speaking & @shanefolan for helping organise.— Aodhán Ó Ríordáin (@AodhanORiordain) February 5, 2019
Hopefully this is a start of something positive for the game here. pic.twitter.com/xw58KYY2aM