Belfast Telegraph

Steven Beacom: Kennedy’s sweet IFA deal leaves a sour taste

March 4, 2010. The time just before 10am. The phone rings and it’s Raymond Kennedy, President of the Irish Football Association.



Let’s just say he wasn’t calling to talk about the price of milk.

In that day’s Belfast Telegraph I had written that Raymond was the type of man who promised much and delivered little.

He didn’t take it very well. Less so, when I told him I stood by every word.

This was the morning after Northern Ireland’s humiliating 1-0 defeat to a pitiful Albanian side in a friendly. Kennedy got off lightly in comparison to the players, but when I brought the conversation round to the game, the performance and the result he wasn’t that bothered. He was more concerned about what I’d said about him and how damaging it was to his reputation.

And therein lies the problem, not just for Kennedy, but for far too many people in power at the IFA — they don’t see the bigger picture. Instead it’s all about them.

You will have watched an England team in the World Cup troubled by egotistical attitudes.

I can genuinely say that is not the case with the Northern Ireland lads, but the committee men at Windsor Avenue more than make up for it.

When they get up and look at the mirror I swear they must ask who’s the greatest of them all.

Yet all these clowns have done over the years is make the IFA a laughing stock, an embarrassment and a complete and utter mess.

Never more so than when the Irish FA lost £516,000 over the wrongful dismissal of the then Chief Executive Howard Wells, who incidentally could teach the rest of them lessons on self-promotion.

Kennedy and his sidekick David Martin were found “equally culpable” for that staggering loss by a government ordered Sport NI report, leaving the IFA Executive Board with no option but to tell the pair their time as President and Vice President was up. Good riddance I say.

I wouldn’t have confidence that Kennedy and Martin could lead a thirsty horse to water let alone an organisation like the IFA.

There’s half a million reasons for that.

Typically with just about eveything that goes on at Windsor Avenue, there is a twist to this saga.

And it comes in the shape of Raymond’s leaving present.

When he eventually goes he’s in line to be made an honorary Life President, who will continue his roles at FIFA and UEFA and represent Northern Ireland at away matches in the Euro 2012 qualifiers.

Oh, and just for good measure Kennedy will be given the opportunity to attend International Board meetings until 2011. Incredible. If it seems like he is being rewarded, despite all that has gone on, you would be right.

By that reckoning John Terry is in line for a knighthood.

The whole thing is a joke, but anyone who has followed the IFA down the years will tell you nothing new there then.

Incidentally the International Board meetings are where the laws of the game are decided. For the record, Kennedy voted against introducing goal-line technology in a previous meeting. Suffice to say he won’t be getting an invite to Frank Lampard and Christine Bleakley’s wedding!

So what now?

Well, members of the IFA Council and the IFA Executive Board, who haven't exactly covered themselves in glory with the governing body lurching from one crisis to the next in recent years, need to start delivering. The next President must be selected carefully and correctly.

Can’t say I’m too confident, though after the appalling leadership shown in the last couple of years, surely things can only get better.

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