FAI make wrong CHESS move by going foreign

Updated: February 29, 2012

CHESS suits F.A.I

Many Irish fans have long lamented the inclusion of English born footballers in the Irish squad, the long lost link to a grand-parent or a marriage certificate proving enough to forge an international career that otherwise may not have been possible. It a worthwhile system however for a small footballing nation and one that has unearthed some real gems over the years, a case in point being none other than Ray Houghton, scorer of two of the most important goals in Irish footballing history.

For a small nation, Ireland, through the curse of famine has spread its wings around the world to the tune of a reported 80 million people claiming to have Irish heritage and links. It is therefore no wonder that that English and Scottish born footballers can turn up in the green of Ireland, the only surprise is that they are only foreign born nationals laying claim to our national team. I am surprised that that we can’t include a Vincente O’Neill, a Brad O’Sullivan or a Johnny Mata in our line up, such is the impression and integration of those brave souls that boarded ships and smaller vessels to leave these shores.

However this piece is not about the men who wear the green of Ireland, even if it produced by an International sports company, Umbro. In this regard, Ireland has every right to “source” the best deal and while we would all love to see O’Neill’s as the maker of National jersey, the money in football and the costs to run the governing body ensure that this process is no doubt sent for tender, enabling larger multinational to benefit from the exposure not to mention the income that jersey sales generate.

Instead this piece focuses on the minor details that make up part of the bigger picture. In these hardened times “new” Ireland has had to regroup its resources with the re-emergence of the community focus and buy local campaigns ensuring that jobs and money stays on their shores. That why is it incredible to read that our national football body has made the decision to have the team suits for the Championship made by an English tailoring company, CHESS.

The deal was announced today and while the money involved will be minor in footballing terms, this deal represents a missed opportunity by those involved in business in Ireland. In this instance the bigger picture was the chance to showcase our wares on an International stage. The Irish team will be photographed as much off the pitch in Poland as they will be on the pitch and that exposure could have helped an Irish company even more so than any fee received for the tailoring of about 30 suits.

The FAI has made much of its financial struggles in recent months and should understand more than most how hard it is to make people’s role redundant, which is why their decision to outsource the tailoring process to an UK company is all the more disappointing. It’s difficult enough to see the mammoth wages, in most cases deserved, earned by our foreign based footballers not repatriated “home” without the double whammy that our governing association is chasing the best deal/label rather than looking after those closer to home.

For the first time ever I understand the American philosophy, if it is one, of keeping a sport insular, NFL and NBA stars are above handsomely paid but at least you know that the vast majority of money stays within the U.S.A. Even our Rugby body, the IRFU, who made their own fashion faux pas (in a monetary sense) when they signed a 6 year deal with Eden Park to suit and boot the Irish team have provided a source of comfort, mainly through its player management, which keeps the salaries of O’Driscoll, O’Gara, Heaslip and Co stays on these shores.

Sporting organisations are quick to play the poor mouth card but all too often when the money comes its way they waste it away, more often than not away from these shores.

By Trevor Keane
Wearing a pair of Clarke shoes, a pair of trousers purchased in Dunnes and a nice Ralph Lauren shirt nabbed at a decent price in the Kildare outlet.

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