Irish Sport Needs to Change

Irish businessman Denis O’Brien has called for greater investment into Irish sport and a change of the culture surrounding it. He said that “if we want our country to be truly successful, outside of rugby we need much greater investment to steady the foundations of sport in our country, and we need drastic changes to create a much more professional, committed mentality.” He has highlighted that the largely amateur nature of the FAI had resulted in an inability to secure proper funding, leading to large debt from Lansdowne Road Stadium, that the Irish Cricket Union needs more funding and focus to reflect Ireland’s new status as a full Test nation, and even grassroots rugby union is partially reliant on private funding. O’Brien has previously used his money to support the Irish national football and cricket teams, from 2008-2018 he paid the full salaries of the Republic of Ireland’s men’s team manager and staff, and in 2007 provide prize money for the Irish men’s cricket team when they reached the quarter finals of the Cricket World Cup.

What O’Brien is calling for is a change in the way that sports is viewed by the Irish government. “I want our national teams to no longer be reliant on private help to merely be able to function. I want the Irish Government to recognise that sport is a fertile ground for entrepreneurship, that investments can be made into infrastructure and grassroots facilities that will help create a new foundation for sport here in Ireland.” He has argued that greater investment will help with the professionalisation of the running of Irish sport, and that by building up a much deeper structure across the country, for football, cricket, grassroots rugby and others such as basketball and hockey, Irish sport will become a more attractive prospect for investment, and much more successful for it.