Minister for Sport Shane Ross says the development of the League of Ireland should be at the centre of the future of football in Ireland.

Last month's Oireachtas Sports Committee meeting heard concerns about the future of the domestic league in the wake of the revelations about the extent of the debts at the FAI.

Mr Ross met today with League of Ireland club and player representatives in Dublin ahead of the minister's meeting with UEFA later this month.

Minister Ross said: "I believe it was vital that we met with the League of Ireland clubs and players today and to hear their views and perspectives ahead of our meeting with UEFA later this month.

"It was stated at the meeting that the League is the 'beating heart’ of soccer, and its development must be placed at the centre of the future of football in Ireland.

"I cannot disagree with this. The contribution of the League of Ireland to communities, including the economic and employment benefits it provides can no longer be underestimated.

"I know that in the past players have felt they had little or no voice in how the game here developed and I agree that the old elitist attitude of ignoring those who matter most to this sport must change immediately.

"The old culture of FAI officials at the front of the plane while our players languished in steerage is over.  

"The League of Ireland is a crucial stakeholder in Irish Football and a vibrant League of Ireland is essential to the future of Irish football. 

"The contributions we have heard today are long overdue, very much welcomed and will of course be conveyed to UEFA."

Professional Footballers' Association of Ireland general secretary Stephen McGuinness, quoted in The Irish Times, said: "It was a positive enough meeting, people got the opportunity to voice their concerns and one of the things he was asked about was where that money had gone because none of it seemed to have come into the league."