The issue of young Irish footballers leaving the country in pursuit of a contract with an English club is something that has been detrimental to the League of Ireland for some time.
Despite the odds being stacked against them, 15 and 16 year olds are still leaving the country en mass every year, and speaking to the Irish Sun, Niall Quinn has revealed that he has stopped advising parents to allow their kids to make the move overseas, where he would have done the opposite in the past.
Quinn believes that the League of Ireland needs an overhaul, and he wants to be a part of it:
I would definitely be interested in getting involved in offering an alternative to kids being whisked away from here at 16.
There’s too much carnage, when 93 per cent of the players go over aren’t getting a second contract.
I speak to parents all the time and, in the past, I might have said, ‘You should give them the chance to go’. Now I’ve gone the other way. How can you send your kid off when there is more than a nine in ten chance of them not making it with nothing to fall back on?
Because our kids go over so young, they’re not respected and they’re easier to move because not much money is invested in them.
When asked what he feels needs to change in order to ensure that Irish talent remains in Ireland, Quinn suggested that major investment needs to be made into the league, and that all involved must buy in to making Irish football more attractive to those who are receiving offers from abroad.
It boils down to trying to throw a bit of rock and roll into the League of Ireland for it to come out of the shadows.
There is a leap of faith and an initial investment required.
The Government and association have to back it and understand this is different from anything else they are funding. I don’t want to be hard on the FAI, they do an awful lot of work which is overlooked, but we need a structure for elite players to develop in this country.
It remains to be seen whether or not Quinn's comments fall on deaf ears, or if he can manage to involve himself in a proper effort to stop the exodus of young talent to England.
That figure of 93% of players not being offered a second contract is staggering, and it's absolutely clear that something needs to change, so hopefully figures like Quinn drawing attention to those type of facts will see it addressed.