HomeFootball€10m per year can fix academy issue – FAI

€10m per year can fix academy issue – FAI

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But there is a lack of clarity on the status of a submission to government that was made last November by outgoing CEO Jonathan Hill who has been wrapped up with other issues in the intervening period.

The FAI are not looking for the Government to stump up the €10m; state support is one element of a multi-stakeholder plan that has been developed to try and more than double the current level of resources.

Will Clarke, who oversees this area for the FAI, used the launch of the new academy year to point out how Ireland is lagging behind other countries under numerous headings.

There are just 10 full-time academy staff employed in the League of Ireland whereas a country of similar size, Croatia, has 190 people working in a comparable area.

His research shows that Irish kids in the U-17 bracket are on the training pitch for 450 fewer minutes per week than counterparts in League 1 and League 2 clubs in the UK.

“The overall cost for us to have a realistic chance of sort of being competitive, we would be looking at, in or around, from a multi-stakeholder model, in and around €10 million a year,” said Clarke.

“If that is from the FAI, private investment, the clubs, Uefa, hopefully Government as well maybe, we would need in and around €10 million a year.

“It is still for consideration with Government at the minute.”

Clarke was unable to shed light on where the idea stands. It is separate to the headline grabbing facility investment plan worth €863m that was given “high priority” in Clarke’s words.

Considering that then Taoiseach Micheál Martin said in 2021 that the Government would be open to helping with any shortfall in the funding of LOI academies, the fact that it took over two years for the FAI plan to be submitted has raised eyebrows – especially when the ask is relatively small in comparison to other projects.

Post-Brexit it is recognised that LOI academies will be vital for the future of the senior international team and Clarke has called for a focus on that area and the impact on the prospects of young players – hinting that it sometimes gets lost on account in discussions around FAI politics.

“It’s not about any individual or a group of individuals, this is about kids,” said Clarke.

“Unfortunately, for whatever reason, Irish kids haven’t been give the same opportunity as their counterparts in other European countries over the years. That’s what we’re working on night and day to try and improve. That’s where that’s at.

“Obviously we’re 40 odd million in debt so we have what we have in terms of resources at the minute so it may be a question of trying to repurpose resources that we have, and maybe look to reallocate some funding

“Even in my role as the Academy Development Manager, we can only control what we can control. We’re doing what we can to make sure the current and future generations of kids are given a fair crack of the whip.”

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