Football

Niall Quinn Hopes To End Need For Irish Players To Leave For England At 15

Niall Quinn Hopes To End Need For Irish Players To Leave For England At 15

Niall Quinn will present his blueprint for the future of Irish football to Minister Shane Ross on Friday.

The Sunday Times reported over the weekend that a group headed by Quinn has produced a 31-page report outlining proposals which their hope will create a more vibrant future for Irish football.

It's said that the Football in Ireland Visionary Group will "seek to develop a proper framework for football in Ireland that would work as the foundation to restructure football in Ireland".

The report - which has been submitted to the Governance Review Group set up by the FAI and Sport Ireland - also features some lofty aims, including creating a profitable League of Ireland by 2026; a League of Ireland team getting to the Champions League group stages by 2027; the Irish men's senior team qualifying for the semi-finals for the 2038 World Cup; increasing participation in football by 7.5 per cent every year from 2020.

"I'm speaking to the ministers as part of a public forum in a few days time," Quinn told Balls at the launch of Virgin Media's Finals Week celebrating their coverage of the Champions League and Europa League deciders.

We're pretty keen to do that and we believe it's a great opportunity for change. The door could be open.

We hope the Governance Review Group end up with a situation which allows real positive change to take place and if we can be a part of that, it's great.

What we intend to bring to the table will be public knowledge pretty soon.

The former Ireland international believes there is a real buzz around the League of Ireland this season.

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"It's a very good product. The players are getting the credit they deserve now.

"Mick McCarthy has recognised some of the performances and gone to watch the matches. The talent that he is seeing is worthy of selection. That's a great boost.

"Clubs themselves are also working very hard and making sure that despite the crisis that the governing association is suffering, that the league itself is standing up and standing proud now; showing glimpses of how big it can actually become.

"There's a good rise in attendances. More young people are attending the games and the football is good. I've gone a few times now, particularly to St Pat's - they're the nearest team to me. It's a decent thing to do on a Friday evening after the week is over. There have been some great matches. They are doing quite well. It's a nice little buzz that's going.

"It whets all of our appetites to think that with the right backing from an association that should make it a priority, how good could it become?

"The key to a great footballing future and a strong association is regaining the trust of the people.

"It's also about producing a product that can feel proud standing up against other leagues around Europe.

"And that our players have a pathway - both in terms of playing and education - that accompany a journey that a young player from Ireland should be taking; aspiring to be part of a great league set-up, trying to emulate other players before him who were doing great things in the league.

"We need to stop this idea that everyone has to be away at 15 or 16 in England before they are even semi-grown-up. That day, hopefully, will go very soon."

Virgin Media pundits Graeme Souness, left, and Niall Quinn, centre, with presenter Tommy Martin pictured at Virgin Media Television’s launch to celebrate Finals Week with live coverage of the UEFA Europa League Final & the UEFA Champions League Final. Virgin Media Television is the home of European Football this week with live coverage of the UEFA Europa League Final on Wednesday 29th May from 6.30pm on both Virgin Media Two & Virgin Media Sport and the UEFA Champions League Final on Saturday 1st June from 6pm on Virgin Media One & Virgin Media Sport. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

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PJ Browne
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