Thursday, May 30, 2024

FAI assistant wants politics out of football as he calls for IRFU-style model

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SHANE ROBINSON has decried the amount of politics in Irish football as he strives to implement the pathways plan.

And he believes no more than five high-level academies is the optimal number for a country of Ireland’s size and population.

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FAI Assistant Director of Football Shane Robinson wants politics kept out of Irish football
And he want an IRFU-style model for the Football Pathways Plan

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And he want an IRFU-style model for the Football Pathways Plan

Robinson left his role as Head of Academy at Shamrock Rovers last year to become Assistant Director of Football at the FAI.

He was involved in drawing up the Football Pathways Plan unveiled by Marc Canham.

It was felt that the Director of Football’s model was undermined by FAI President Paul Cooke when he told the Association’s General Assembly that nobody had to do anything with which they were not comfortable.

And Robinson said: “It’s supported publicly by the board at the moment.

“That message needs to be really, really clear, that it’s supported by the board, that it’s supported by Paul Cooke. It needs to be drove home.

“There are elements of it that we’re consulting on to try and work with areas and regions and tweak it a little bit.

“The politics within Irish football is unbelievable at the moment, the amount of stakeholders we’ve to deal with in terms of the consultation process that’s ongoing.

“If you’re in grassroots and you’re putting a whole gameplan together, someone is going to be affected along the way. Likewise in League of Ireland, they’re not going to be happy with everything that’s put into the FPP.

“I think it’s a really good framework, I think most people would agree lots of it is a common sense approach to many key areas but the one thing we lack in this country is common sense, in terms of when we’re dealing with football and sport and putting the player first.

“It’s about thinking what people who partake in the game need. We’ve let politics get in the way of football here for probably 25 years.”

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The UEFA solidarity payments – due to rise to €3million next year – are currently divided between all League of Ireland clubs.

Robinson believes a streamlined approach is the way to go, even though he is fully aware that will upset people along the way.

He cited Portugal having seven academies and Croatia five and also pointed to a model closer to home.

He said: “We are one of the only leagues in the world dividing the payment by 20. Are 20 clubs investing the same in youth development in this country? We’re not.

“If you look at what the IRFU have done, that is a really good model, working with a small talent pool filtered into an academic system, where they really focus on player development.

“Obviously football is a more global game and it is going to take a lot more than just that, but it is a perfect model that is staring us in the face.”

Robinson also highlighted the need for uniformity across the country, highlighting that Johnny Walsh, in 1982, was the last player to grow up in Limerick – Steve Finnan was born there – to be capped by Ireland.

He said: “I look at the DDSL as an example, they took on board most of the recommendations in the last football plan in terms of going 5 v 5, 7 v 7, 9 v 9, trying to play as much as football, lots of basic things where you’d say ‘yeah that makes sense’.

“Right now, our Under-15 group just gone to Italy, 15 of the boys are from Dublin. It’s not a coincidence that was ten years ago, things started to change in that sense. Players are technically better.

“If we look over the country, leagues have to take accountability for what’s happened in different areas.

“This hasn’t been consistent across the country. Hand on heart, the same is not happening in the likes of Waterford where I grew up compared to Dublin.

“We can consult and listen and have some conversations but ultimately what’s good for the player is this. The hardest part of the job has been getting buy in from everyone.”

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