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16th Jun 2024

Wealthy Peterborough chairman ‘happy to work for free’ to save Irish Football

Ronan Calvert

Peterborough owner Darragh MacAnthony

Peterborough chairman Darragh McAnthony wants to fix Irish Football.

A string of X (formerly Twitter) posts by Peterborough United‘s Irish chairman Darragh MacAnthony have gotten Irish football fans talking.

On Saturday night, the entrepreneur reacted to Albania’s EURO 2024 appearance versus Italy by asking his followers why Ireland haven’t qualified for tournaments in recent years.

Ireland failed to qualify for the competition in Germany after coming fourth place in a group featuring France, Netherlands, Greece and Gibraltar.

The national team, then coached by Stephen Kenny, also failed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup, with Portugal and Serbia taking the two top spots.

But MacAnthony was perplexed as to how perceived lesser teams like Albania have managed to reach major tournaments and not Ireland, calling the current state of Irish Football a “nonsense”.

‘How on earth has countries like Albania (no disrespect) made a euros & not @IrelandFootball,’ he wrote.

‘With all due respect what the f..k [sic] are the @IrelandFootball doing with our national team.

‘I’m happy to work for free to resolve this nonsense. With players we have at our disposal we should be qualifying for euros and world cups easily.

‘Let’s get our act together Irish football. Out with the veterans & never beens & Let’s get rocking and rolling for USA 2026 World Cup.

‘Ridiculous how awful Irish international football has been last 6 plus years.’

One X user responded to the post by remarking ‘Offer your assistance to the FAI on where they are going wrong’, to which MacAnthony replied ‘They know who I am and how to get hold of me’.

Another user asked ‘Are you going to invest some money into an Irish academy?’ and the €298 million man (as of 2007) wrote ‘If that’s what it takes then yes’.

MacAnthony, who grew up in Rathmines, quickly turned sour, however.

Especially after a fan suggested MacAnthony’s plan was to appoint Darren Ferguson, sack him and reappoint him (Ferguson is currently enjoying his fourth stint at The Posh).

‘That’s funny but I’ll bet DF (Darren Ferguson) would have had them qualified for this euros and last World Cup and had a young side filling up their home stadium scoring goals and playing glorious football,’ wrote MacAnthony, sounding increasingly like an evil Stephen Kenny.

‘Put some f*****g respect on my managers [sic] name dickwad!’ he added.

MacAnthony is the son of multi-millionaire businessman Austin MacAnthony and left St Mary’s College in Dublin for Spain as a 15-year-old.

At just 30, he became the chairman of Peterborough United and delivered on his promise to take the club from League Two to the Championship in just two seasons.

The club, although playing at a stadium with just 8,000 seats, has managed to deliver Championship football on a number of occasions because of its sensible dealings in the transfer market – examples being the recruitment and sale of Ireland internationals Sammie Szmodics and Jack Taylor to Blackburn and Ipswich respectively.

Based on MacAnthony’s erratic social media posts, maybe it would be best for the FAI to keep him away from the politics of the association

Should he follow up on his pledge to invest in Irish academies however, then perhaps the association should approach him with open ears.

Mainly because Ireland currently has one of the most underfunded academy structures in all of Europe.

Andorra, Luxembourg and Northern Ireland are the only other UEFA countries with – on average – fewer than one full-time academy employee per club.

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