The Football Association of Ireland has appointed global sports marketing expert Jonathan Neill as a Commercial Consultant to review and support its ongoing commercial activity as the Association separately begins the recruitment process for a Commercial Director to oversee the newly-created Communications Division as well as for the new Marketing and Communications Director role.

This is part of a reshuffle at Abbotstown that has seen the creation of two separate roles combining that which was led by Mark Russell up to this point.

They will be two seats as part of an eight-strong Senior Leadership Team that will report to CEO Jonathan Hill. The role of Chief Operations Officer, taking over from Rea Walshe is reported to be close to being filled while that of Director of Football is being sought to replace Ruud Dokter who is stepping down at the end of the year.

The four who are in place are Mark Scanlon as League of Ireland Director, Barry Gleeson in charge of International Operations, Alex O’Connell as finance Director and Ger McDermott in charge of Grassroots.

Jonathan Neil may yet take on the Commercial Director role but that is not on the agenda for the moment.

He recently stepped down as Commercial Director of the Rugby league World Cup and has subsequently taken on a number of consultancy projects.

Heavy Hitter

As Head of Sponsorship Partnerships at Barclays his global sponsorship strategy, management and activation brief included the Barclays Premier League so he comes into the role as a heavy hitter.

That aligns with the new buzz there is around the Irish team, the return of fans to a full Aviva Stadium and the partnership secured with Sky on the Women’s game.

“This role is one I am really excited about at such a pivotal time for Irish football,” said Neil.

“It’s an exciting time to work with the FAI with their vision to inspire and unite the nation. Football in Ireland has a clear sense of belonging and impact within communities and I firmly believe this will resonate with future partners of the Association, as well as with the current roster of sponsor partners.”

“I look forward to playing my part in helping the organisation meet their overall strategic goals, with the commercial programme having a crucial role to deliver this.”

“The FAI already enjoys fantastic partnerships with some of the biggest brands in Ireland whom I am really excited to work with and I am confident that the potential opportunities for new sponsors across all levels of Irish football are significant as we build real commercial momentum for Irish football moving forward.”

“I’m delighted to have someone of Jonathan’s experience join the team at a critical time for the organisation as we restructure our overall approach to both revenue-generation and how we interact with all of our stakeholders, ” added CEO Jonathan Hill.

“I know he will bring a fresh pair of eyes to our challenges and opportunities and help give us that laser focus in terms of revenue generation which is obviously so important for us as we move to a more sustainable and independent financial future.”

Sport for Business Perspective:

Neil’s experience is at the very top end of commercial sport. He signed the biggest deal in the history of the Rugby League World Cup with the Cazoo brand that has also taken over the rights to the Epsom Derby and other key properties. Having been a key player in Barclay’s partnership with the Premier League he has a rare top-flight experience on both sides of the partnership equation.



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