Cork City chairman feels league reform requires bravery from Irish soccer clubs

Cork City chairman feels league reform requires bravery from Irish soccer clubs
Neale Fenn with Cork City chairman Declan Carey. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

CORK City chairman Declan Carey believes that the clubs of the SSE Airtricity League need to be brave in terms of reform in the wake of recent FAI revelations.

Last week, it was revealed that the national association’s financial situation is worse than widely thought. Speaking to RTÉ Radio 1’s This Week programme, Carey felt that the crisis can be turned into an opportunity.

“There have been ongoing discussions,” he said. “Certain figures have been in the public eye over the last year about reforming the league.

“I think maybe some people have vested interests about becoming involved in certain positions.

“There has been talk about an all- island league and the clubs breaking away. As a club, we’re in favour of any restructuring that would benefit football, from an underage perspective all the way to bringing in more commercial revenue and more TV rights, which we have been denied by the FAI over the last number of years.

“When Noel Mooney came in, in his interim role, he was very supportive of the league in his short period of time. He tried to drive the discussions around reform and I think the League of Ireland clubs need to be brave about what direction we want to go.

“We need to take advantage of the situation now and try to reform the league as best we can and recoup what we have been denied as clubs over the last number of years and decades.”

Going forward, Carey hopes that the FAI will operate in a more open manner.

“We hate to say ‘I told you so’, ” he said, “but there was a feeling that something was amiss. It’s not a surprise to people involved in the League of Ireland that these things have come to light, but I think that there is a sense of shock at the extent of it all.

“One thing we do appreciate, and it’s something we try to do in our own club, is the transparency shown by the FAI since last week.

“I think there’s an opportunity to keep that level of transparency going and to be as honest as possible.

“There’s an opportunity now to really go back to basics, but it’s going to take a lot of work.”

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