The plan, devised by rank and file members of the FAI staff, has gained cross-party support and would result in the stripping down of the responsibilities of the governing body in Abbotstown.

State backing would be sought for a new body that would solely look after the grassroots, community and development side of the game.

The function of the FAI would revert to managing the international teams and the elite side of the sport – and it would have to essentially stand on its own two feet to do so.

At a meeting with Government on Wednesday, a lobbying group will argue the case for substantial backing for projects concentrated solely on the growth of the game.

Before State funding was suspended, the annual contribution from the public coffers to football was €2.9m a year.

A group of FAI employees and politicians – including Labour TDs Aodhán Ó Ríordáin and Brendan Howlin – and other stakeholders in the game have come together to make the case for raising that amount to the €10m mark as part of a reform of the structures of the sport here.

Niall Quinn and Brian Kerr have been offering their input to the group, with Mr Kerr indicating earlier this week that he had been briefed on an idea that would lead to a new direction. “I was very impressed with what they showed me as a proposal for the future,” Mr Kerr told Virgin Media Sport. “It should be looked at very carefully.”

The group has pointed to the €16m annual contribution to the greyhound industry as evidence that football has been short-changed given its massive popularity around the country.

However, the turmoil at the FAI has seriously damaged the credibility of the sport and jeopardised important projects around the country.

Minister for Tourism, Transport and Sport Shane Ross has been in touch with members of the group.

He is due at the Dáil on Wednesday to appear in front of the Oireachtas Committee for Sport along with representatives of Sport Ireland.

Mr Ross has already looked at providing funding to grassroots-based projects without going through the FAI.

The future of the League of Ireland is one element that would have to be resolved in any discussions.

Clubs had been in talks about setting up a new hybrid model in partnership with the FAI before the extent of the Abbotstown problems were laid bare.

They are now strongly considering going out on their own to run the league themselves, but the alternative option is Kerry businessman Kieran Lucid’s vision for an all-island league.

That is understood to have political support but the main obstacle is opposition from the Belfast-based Irish Football Association which has said it will not allow the Northern Irish clubs to proceed with the plan.

Irish Independent





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