Niall Quinn appointed interim Deputy CEO of The Football Association of Ireland

Niall Quinn has been appointed interim Deputy CEO of The Football Association of Ireland
Andy Watters

NIALL Quinn has been appointed as interim Deputy CEO of The Football Association of Ireland (FAI).

The Dubliner, a goal-scorer for the Republic of Ireland at Italia 90 (against Holland), who also played a vital role in Robbie Keane's unforgettable equaliser against Germany in the 2002 finals tournament, was capped 92 times by the Republic, scoring 21 goals, and also played in the English top flight for Arsenal, Manchester City and Sunderland.

As well as being a former board member of Sport Ireland, Quinn is the former chairman of Sunderland and is a successful businessman across diverse industries in Ireland and abroad.

The appointment of the popular former targetman striker is a positive boost to the image of the FAI which has been bombarded by negativity over the past year.

It comes after debts in the region of E62million were confirmed late last year in the wake of the FAI parting company with executive vice-president John Delaney in September. Delaney had stepped aside as chief executive officer in March last year following revelations of a €100,000 loan he gave to the association. This week he stepped down from his role with Uefa.

On the pitch, Mick McCarthy's misfiring side will need to win two play-off rounds (against Slovakia and then the winners of Northern Ireland v Bosnia) to quality for next summer's European Championships and Quinn's appointment were rekindle memories of better days for the Boys in Green.

“In addressing the current challenges facing the FAI, the executive team want to ensure that the organisation's core objective of the promotion and development of the game of football in Ireland is prioritised,” said an FAI spokesman.

“Niall's role with the team will focus on leading a future League of Ireland strategy, the overall development of the game in Ireland, including supporting grassroots and community initiatives together with our player pathway programmes.

“Niall will also focus on helping restoring and building key relationships and trust with key peer groups and the media.”

Gary Owens, FAI interim CEO, said Quinn was “a great fit” for the FAI.

“We are really pleased that someone of Niall's calibre is joining the team,” said Owens.

“Football is such an important game in this country at every level. Niall not only brings great insight and experience to developing the game but is passionate about football in Ireland – his energy and commitment is a great fit for the FAI as we begin reform of the organisation and look to create a better future for football in Ireland.”

Quinn had previously been touted as a possible replacement for Delaney (who had taken up the grandly-titled position of executive vice-president) last year but he emphatically distanced himself from taking over as CEO.

"Under absolutely no circumstances will I be applying for the job, given the current remit of where this job sits," Quinn, a former Dublin minor hurler, said.

"I don't think it reads as a CEO role at all. I think it reads as half a CEO role and anyone going in there will have a huge shadow over them because the departing CEO hasn't departed at all and it would make life very very difficult.

"Quite frankly I think it's a little bit of a charade, given the scrutiny that was in place over the last week. The rush of the appointment, the unanimous decision of the board to tell us all late on a Saturday night in the middle of some serious scrutiny on the CEO at that time, that this was great for the association and it was a great move and everyone should back it.

"We are not buying it, I'm not buying it. I think it's an ill-conceived decision that needs to be looked at again, in my opinion. I will say it again, it's a half a CEO role and it's a role, if it stays in its current remit, it's for a gillie (an assistant)."

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