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The painful experience that was my IFA exit: Boyce

By Steven Beacom

Published 09/06/2015

Shake: Ex-IFA Presidents Jim Boyce and Raymond Kennedy
Shake: Ex-IFA Presidents Jim Boyce and Raymond Kennedy

Jim Boyce admits he'll always feel hurt by how his tenure as Irish FA President ended.

Boyce may have been highly respected in Uefa and Fifa circles, and a hugely popular figure with the Northern Ireland public, but in 2007 that didn't stop him falling victim to the IFA's 'night of the long knives' when Raymond Kennedy became President.

Eight years ago moves had been made in the background by Kennedy and David Martin to lobby IFA members to vote against Boyce. The plan worked with the votes at the Council meeting tied. Instead of opting for a second vote, Boyce stepped down.

"I still have many friends at the Irish FA, but there is no point in me trying to hide the fact that I was terribly hurt at the way everything happened at the end. I think I'll always feel hurt by how it ended," said Boyce, who later became Honorary IFA President.

"I had told the then Chief Executive Howard Wells before that election took place that I thought it was time for change at the IFA and probably the next season would have been my last as President of the IFA.

"What hurt me was being told of things that went on behind my back. At the time the Northern Ireland team was enjoying a great run of results, we were top of our Euro group and six weeks before the election we had signed the biggest deal in our history regarding TV rights both for local football and internationals.

"Having said that, they felt it was time for a change. I always said that if I didn't have majority support at the IFA it would be time to step aside."

Ironically, Kennedy left the President's role in 2010 having lost the support of the IFA's Executive Board after an independent report was critical of his and then Vice President Martin's roles in the sacking of ex-IFA Chief Executive Wells, which cost the IFA £500,000 in an unfair dismissal case taken by Wells.

Martin also left his role, but is favourite to take over from Shaw as President next year. Asked if he wanted to comment on Martin potentially becoming the new figurehead, Boyce said: "Absolutely not."

Belfast Telegraph

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