Niall Quinn's Football in Ireland Visionary Group have laid out an ambitious plan for a complete overhaul of Irish football, with a fully professional League of Ireland by 2026 and a 7.5% year-on-year increase in participation among the aims.

The group's submission to the Governance Reform Group of the FAI - which has been seen by RTÉ Sport - calls for a UEFA style governance structure for the association and the harnessing of new commercial revenue streams to create a sustainable Irish football industry, with greater support from government, the education sphere and regional bodies.

Chaired by former Republic of Ireland striker Quinn, the nine-strong group's other members include former League of Ireland footballers Kieran Foley and Gerry Muldowney and the CEO of Sunderland's Foundation of Light, Lesley Spuhler.

The group make the case that a reorganisation of the FAI is required to allow it to 'adapt more flexibly' and suggest a UEFA/FIFA style structure with age and term limits of board members and responsibility for operational and commercial issues to lie with an administrative team that answer to the board.


Also eye-catching in the 31-page document are the ambitious plans for player development and the domestic league, which the group believes are crucial to the success of the national teams as "the major internationalism of the English Premier League has curtailed the development of a lot of Irish players by top professional clubs in the UK".

An "immediate and complete transformation" of the League of Ireland is required, with the group holding up the Premier League as an example.

"The visionary group would propose a new structure from the current framework in that the League would become an independent commercial body but play under the official regulations and statutes of the FAI, under UEFA and FIFA rules, but run independently commercially by a third party e.g. English Premier League structure.

"The rights for the League would be developed both centrally and per team, with a clear distribution of centralised funds as well as team revenue opportunities. A clear understanding and management of all areas from sponsorship to broadcast and content creation, to event activities, merchandising, community programmes and more would be detailed in a new construct which would align all parties into a more cohesive plan for the benefit of all.

"As well as Men’s, the league office would be responsible for the Women’s league and the development of the major elite development of our League of Ireland players."

The wide-ranging document also lays out intentions to construct improved facilities, educate better coaches and increase women's participation.

Quinn attended today's Irish Football Stakeholder Forum at the Mansion House in Dublin, where Minister for Sport Shane Ross called on the FAI to review the appointment of former FAI employee and current UEFA staff-employee Noel Mooney to the post of Interim General Manager.