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'FAI have been firefighting since March 2019' | The challenges for the new FAI CEO

Dan McDonnell dropped into the Football Show on Tuesday's Off The Ball where he laid bare some of...



Dan McDonnell dropped into the Football Show on Tuesday's Off The Ball where he laid bare some of the challenges ahead for new FAI CEO Jonathan Hill.

"There's no good time to arrive at the FAI in the last 18 months," quipped McDonnell of the Englishman's imminent tenure.

"Gary Owens sent his goodbye email to staff with language like 'hard work' and 'challenging times' hoping the work they have done will 'stand to them in the future' suggesting all they have been doing is firefighting.

"The term hasn't been used but it's an accurate description of what has been happening at the FAI really since March 2019.

"The appointment of a new permanent CEO is supposed to represent a change and a time to look forward."

McDonnell says there are many fires for Hill to fight in the coming months with new ones apparently igniting regularly.

"There are still legacy issues, legacy debt and of course COVID which every business is grappling with. It's left him with an unenviable task.

"Yes, it's a well-paid job, in some ways he has no baggage so it's a clean slate and an opportunity. It's not one where you can have a honeymoon period, though."

FAI Challenges

With obvious long and medium-term concerns, Hill's commercial experience will need to be put to work immediately.

"Sponsorship is an obvious issue for the FAI," according to McDonnell. "There was a great response to the new Ireland shirt being released last week without a sponsor.

"It looks good and people probably prefer not having a sponsor on a national shirt, but it's also a reflection that the deal with Three is up. The FAI needs to agree a deal with a new title sponsor.

"The League of Ireland is without Airtricity [title sponsor] now. Those are obvious areas. In the long term and medium-term, there is obviously a brand damage issue that he will have to grapple with.

"That overlaps with sponsorship, that's the main area. He has been hired for his commercial acumen having been a commercial director with the English FA, that's why he's in.

"He's not here because he's a good man for the grassroots or a great football brain, although he is apparently engaged by all of those things, it's for the commercial side of things.

"Then there's the obvious stuff as well the perennial issues of 'what are you going to do with the League of Ireland?' particularly in COVID times.

"There are also simmering issues around grassroots and underage leagues too."

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#FAI #Football #Soccer #JohnDelaney FAI Jonathan Hill League Of Ireland Stephen Kenny