New crest and a new identity as FAI hoping rebrand will net title sponsor

The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) is to launch new logos for its international teams ahead of March’s European Championship qualifier against France.

he Association is hoping the rebrand of its teams’ crests and a new identity for the organization will help to improve its standing in the corporate world, as it has failed to secure a men’s team sponsor since the John Delaney was ended in scandal in 2019.

Speaking at yesterday’s reconvened annual general meeting, Jonathan Hill, the FAI’s chief executive officer, confirmed that the rebrand, which will not involve a name change, would be launched as part of an announcement of a new kit supplier in the coming weeks.

“In relation to the logo, as part of the announcement of the strategy, we will be looking closely at all of the different and very disparate brands that I inherited when I came into the organisation, which have been growing over 20 years or so, and there is no real logical marketing or brand approach to them,” said Hill.

He said that Louise Cassidy, the FAI’s head of marketing and communications appointed last June, had “done a great piece of work” on the rebranding plan.

“We will be announcing that we will have a new crest for our international teams, we will have a new identity for the organization itself, the FAI,” said Hill. “And we have already announced, and you have seen the work in relation to the League of Ireland, and we are working hard in relation to major programs and areas within grassroots as well. So, I think we will have a very sensible and attractive group of crests and brands and logos, which is important. It’s important for everyone in the game, and it’s important for us when we go out and speak to sponsors.”

Hill said it was logical for the new branding and logos to be launched with the new shirt deal, which is reportedly agreed with UK supplier Castore, and this will be done before Stephen Kenny’s Ireland take on France in March. FAI sources have indicated the new kit deal will be lucrative for the Association, which is struggling with enormous debts.

Hill also said the FAI is researching plans to create a third tier for club sides but that he would not describe it as the third tier for the League of Ireland.

“I’d look at it as a third level for Irish football because it works both ways, upwards and downwards,” he said. “Mark Scanlon [League of Ireland director] continue to look at that. It’s something that we think from a football perspective makes sense. Marc Canham, as football director, is going out to deal with wide-ranging consultations in relation to player pathways, and that obviously would constitute part of that debate. So I am hopeful that we will have something as an executive to take back to the board within 2023 to talk about a potential 2024 start. It’s quite complex, because I think, by definition, it has to be part of a wider pyramid discussion, so it doesn’t stand in isolation.”

Both Hill and Gerry McAneaney, the FAI president, said the board will decide in February whether it will vote to support FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s re-election in March. Some federations have indicated they will not support Infantino, who is standing unopposed for a third term of office. Hill said he was glad that Nixon Morton, a delegate at the AGM, had raised concerns about Fifa’s ethics, its decision to award World Cups to Russia and Qatar, and the treatment of workers in Qatar.

At the AGM, Niamh O’Mahony was voted on to the FAI board, replacing the departing Dick Shakespeare as League of Ireland representative. O’Mahony improves the FAI board’s female membership to three as it strives to have at least a 40 per cent female cohort from its 12 members to meet Government gender-balance targets by 2024.

O’Mahony has a long association with Cork City but rose through the FAI as a representative of the Irish Football Supporters Partnership in the general assembly. She is the chief operating officer and head of governance at Football Supporters Europe (FSE) and said she will be the first supporters’ representative on a national federation’s board in Europe.

Hill urged the Schoolboys Football Association of Ireland (SFAI) to consider putting forward a female candidate to replace Tom Browne after he was voted off the Association’s board by 46 votes to 44.

Robert Watt, the secretary general of the Department of Health, and Packie Bonner, the former FAI technical director and Ireland goalkeeper, were re-elected to the board.

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