Back To The Future

“The more things change the more they stay the same” - Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr


Firstly, apologies for missing the last two weeks blog posting's but it impossible for me to get something out on a Thursday now, so I have moved it to Tuesday with the hope that I can deliver an interesting weekly read.

As we spoke about on this week’s Patreon episode, the FAI’s appearance in front of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) last Thursday was an embarrassment from start to finish. There to make their case for €500 million in public funding over the next ten years, they were shown up for the inept, clueless, and fundamentally flawed organisation that all LOI fans know they are. The only thing achieved is that now the whole country knows, if they somehow hadn’t done so previously.

For me, Jonathan Hill’s position is untenable, it was actually untenable two years ago but this time he has to go, there can be no other outcome if we seek to restore even the tiniest bit of credibility to an organisation that has lacked it for years now. Delaney went down swinging, with high court injunctions, cheques for whichever junior or schoolboys club needed one, journalists looking into his every move from the day he first took office. Hill on the other hand will simply be redacted.

The FAI’s defence of his payment for unused holidays as being a joke gone bad, isn’t just nonsensical, it defies believe. I hope somewhere in those meetings in Abbottstown that formulated the strategy for this PAC appearance, that there was at least one voice saying “Lads, do we really think that putting that defence in the public domain is a good idea, should we not just take the wrap for this on the chin, instead of making ourselves look like bigger clowns then we already do?”

Similarly for the redacted email, surely someone said, “Look let’s just say we are not giving you the email and be thought fools, rather than give them that whole thing redacted and therefore confirm it”.

Liam Kearney posting on X on Sunday evening summed it up best IMHO, “He is an embarrassment. How we are sending him in as our spokesperson at this point is some of the biggest self-sabotaging decision making, I’ve ever seen”.

Liam is someone who has worked in the game here nearly all his professional life, someone who understands better than nearly anyone else, the damage that was done to the game in this country by that PAC appearance.

We sought €500 million for the funding of academies, for the building of infrastructure projects, for the development of the professional game in this country in all its forms, we sought to build a football industry and instead with one redacted email and plenty of late submissions,  they brought the foundations of that industry down around them.

Liam knows this and spoke out and I for one would love to know, did his phone ring on Monday morning? Hi Liam, this is the FAI, just wondering if we can have a word?. That’s the way it used to work, I’m just pondering if this new FAI is still working in the same way the old one did, because the PAC appearance makes it seem like things have gotten worse. Say what you like about John Delaney and his FAI but there is no way they would have gotten caught with their pants around their ankles like the “new FAI” did.

I may have missed some but from my browsing around Twitter and other Social Media apps it appears that Liam Kearney is the only person with a genuine standing in the domestic game who has spoken out about what he witnessed. For that he deserves huge credit, but it raises the question of why other voices remain silent?

Where are the other academy heads, the club owners, the boards of management, the CEO’s, the managers, the PFA, all the people who will actually shape the way the professional game will develop in this country over the next ten or so years? The sound of silence has been deafening from too many quarters, for my liking. Hopefully everyone has privately submitted their views to the FAI rather than doing so publicly, because as we were told recently, the FAI “actually work for the clubs” so on that basis, it can be determined that if the clubs want Hill’s head on a plate, it can be delivered…

That brings us to the clubs and what the best thing they can do for the league is? My unchanging opinion is that we now need an independently run league, I will admit that I say that from a point of view whereby it is easy to do so. I don’t have to worry about funding, structures, corporate environments and all the other hugely important areas that any new league would have to consider.

Its easy to be the “idea’s man” when you are not required to back it up, but how long can we allow our league to be under the umbrella of an organisation, which has shown for many years now that it is incapable of good governance, and more importantly of looking like an organisation that any government would be happy to invest €500m of the states money in?

The vast majority of our infrastructure is crumbling around us, Brexit has given us an opportunity to invest in and develop a world class academy infrastructure with the hopes of seeing more players of the quality of Mason Melia, Cathal O Sullivan, Jaden Umeh, Sam Curtis etc before they depart these shores for further glories. But how can you trust the governing body to be the ones to oversee the use of government money when they admitted last Thursday that they broke the law by using Covid payments to pay down legacy debt?

The simple answer is you can’t, and neither can the government and when the government don’t trust the recipient they simply will not and cannot part with taxpayers’ money. The FAI is an organisation of committees, schoolboys, junior, senior, this league, that league, all of which at their core, have no desire to see the League of Ireland prosper and flourish. Only last year, Packie Bonner called for Celtic to buy a LOI club to use as a feeder team for the benefit of their Scottish ambitions, this man is a high-ranking FAI official and board member. How can the League of Ireland progress in an environment where 3/4s of its own governing body would be happy to see it fail?

Mark Scanlon as LOI Director has one of the toughest jobs in world football, run a league, help it grow and prosper, turn it into something it has never been before, a success, all with one if not two hands tied behind his back. The only way forward that I can see, is a breakaway league of some format, but what format you ask? I honestly have no idea, there are people out there who have brought forward proposals previously, but they have never made it as far as speaking to clubs, maybe now is the time for the clubs and their representatives to seek out those meetings and hear first hand exactly what is on the table? The FAI is once again a toxic brand, while, for the first time that I can remember the league is on a genuine high, heading in the right direction long term, how long can we allow the toxicity of that brand to hang around our necks and drag us back into the quagmire from which we have fought so hard to emerge?

Liam Kearney has spoken and delivered his message, hopefully soon, more will follow suit.

“Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose “



Seeing as this is the first blog I have written and released before a pod’s release on Wednesday, please allow me to give a little insight into what is coming up on tomorrow’s episode.

  • Training Grounds
  • Whats your favourite carpark?
  • Pat Mahomes
  • Injuries
  • Harps review and I am very much glass half full.
  • Sure, they are only students & much much more.

As usual you can catch the pod on your favourite podcast platform every Wednesday around noon.