FAI to call on government for investment in League of Ireland academies
The FAI are set to approach the government for firm support around the development of League of Ireland academies.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin last month said the State would “step up to the plate” if the FAI prioritised the development of young players.
Brexit changes and the FAI’s expansion of the scope of the national underage leagues has placed more emphasis on the League of Ireland’s developmental structures.
And the newly-appointed League of Ireland club academy co-ordinator Will Clarke stated yesterday that government support has to be central to any future strategy.
“Ultimately, if we’re going to get to the level we want to be in terms of developing the League of Ireland and international teams, we are going to need support,” said Clarke, at the announcement of EA Sports as the new underage national league sponsors.
“As we all know clubs don’t have the private investment to support the infrastructure. We are going to need government support whether it be through the sports capital programme or through other sources of funding.
“There is a realisation that youth development in Ireland matters, the way things have evolved in the last few years in terms of Brexit and things like that. Probably for the first time in our history there is a genuine onus on Irish football to develop our best players.
“Myself and Mark (Scanlon, League of Ireland director) would have met with (FAI CEO) Jonathan Hill and (chairman) Roy Barrett and presented about the academies and they’re quite supportive in terms of what we’re trying to do.”
Clarke acknowledged that mending relations between the league and the schoolboy side of the game – who feel the LOI has been favoured by high performance director Ruud Dokter – remains a priority.