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If The FAI Are Serious About Irish Football, They Should Give Brian Kerr A Job

If The FAI Are Serious About Irish Football, They Should Give Brian Kerr A Job
By Gavin Cooney

Passion and power in Irish football are entirely separate entities.

This was starkly illustrated on the most recent edition of Soccer Republic. League of Ireland director Fran Gavin made an appearance on the show to explain the FAI's recent decision to grant each of the League of Ireland clubs €5,000 to help them develop strategic plans.

The decision was rejected and met with derision by Derry City and Saint Patrick's Athletic, and Gavin's attempt to sell it was met with the fury of a fellow guest Brian Kerr.

The frustrations levels across the league are remarkable - I'm talking about the facilities, the facilities for female supporters, the pitches, the dressing rooms are desperate.

All around the country there are ferociously bad facilities and nothing has been done about it for years and years.

Talking about strategic planning now for five years is a load of bunkum.

The 100k is a pittance in terms of the money the FAI are getting in.

Where is the leadership in the FAI in relation to the league?

They are all a fuss about Dundalk this week. Why wasn't there all this fuss about the league before the season started?

People don't even know when the fixtures are on.

This was part of an impassioned rebuttal by Kerr, which can be viewed in full here.

Kerr's appearance provoked a huge response from Irish fans across the country, and offered further proof of the ongoing absurdity that is his continued lack of involvement in Irish football.

The saga regarding the FAI's response to Saint Patrick's Athletic rejection of the grant has once again accentuated the fact that trust has broken down between some clubs and the Association, and the fact that the greatest passion for Irish football resides outside of the halls of power.

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The FAI have been at pains to point out that the €5,000 grant is merely the first step to more funding down the line, and that the clubs need to trust the FAI that they'll work their hardest to deliver the bespoke requirements of every individual club.

But it is hard for clubs to trust that the association have their interests as top priority when the Chief Executive's salary is more than three times the prize money for winning the Premier Division. Trust is a two-way thing, and for all the FAI's press releases that they have "arranged the Aviva" for Dundalk, until they can display a true passion for the grassroots of the game, they will struggle to build that relationship.

This is why they should give Brian Kerr a job.

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Up to now, it's been assumed Kerr's best role would be in youth development. He clearly has the track record to succeed, and endorsements don't come too much higher than that given by Damien Duff on Graham Hunter's podcast:

Side issue, but how Brian Kerr isn't involved in underage football in Ireland is a disgrace.

I have to be careful about what I say now, but talking myself and yourself earlier about love of the game, Brian Kerr's got that.

I just can't fathom how he's not involved in Irish football, he's on Setanta TV and he does a bit of radio, you name any footballer in the world and he'll tell you about them now. His knowledge of the game is second to none, his passion, if you go ask Robbie or any of the lads that were with him, it's obviously because of them that he got the senior job, and he didn't do too badly. It was us!

He got us to 12th or something in the World which is our best ever, and if it wasn't for two late goals against Israel home and away, which was nothing to do with him, we would have won the group.

Kerr should probably have Ruud Dokter's job. It's too early to judge Dokter's performance: he has only been in the job since 2013, but in one of his very few interviews thus far, he admitted to the Irish Independent that his vision will take time:

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Change takes time. It's not a matter of writing a book and saying, 'Ok go ahead, this is it, that will work.' It's an ongoing basis to influence people.

While Dokter may yet prove a success, it is hard to argue against the idea that this overall vision would have been achieved far quicker had Kerr been involved in implementing it, given the fact he knows Irish football as well as anyone.

If this isn't going to happen, then he should be involved with the League of Ireland clubs, on behalf of the Association.

If the FAI want to build that trust with the clubs, they have to show that they fully understand their difficulties, so appointing Kerr would prove that they at least know someone who does. Fran Gavin's current role stretches him too thin: as well as Director of the League he is the Director of Competitions, meaning he has to take responsibilities for cup competitions along with underage competitions.

Kerr should be given the role as go-between in the meetings between clubs and the FAI.

Kerr's passion is impossible to feign or replicate, and if clubs were engaging with a body who cannot doubt have their best interests at heart, then progress will be come about far more quickly. The FAI have called for trust from the clubs: Kerr guarantees that.

Working with Kerr would have a far stronger impact on the FAI's Public Relations than statements regarding their arrangement of the Aviva and their staffing of stewards. It would be a confirmation they are properly willing to work with the clubs.

If the Irish national team are to give us more days like Italy in Euro 2016, then we need a strong domestic league.

To ensure a strong domestic league, the clubs and the FAI have to work together.

This would be much easier to achieve if the FAI employed someone whose passion and knowledge for the League of Ireland was not in question.

The day power and passion combine will be a great day for Irish football.

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