Dundalk FC chairman Bill Hulsizer has vowed to work with the FAI to “take Irish football in the right direction.”
Speaking after a meeting between SSE Airtricity League clubs and the association on Thursday, the Florida-based businessman said that great progress had been made on a new participation agreement that he feels could work for all parties.
His latest comments come after an email in which he claimed “Dundalk FC and myself have been lied to, stolen from, insulted and disrespected by the FAI,” was leaked to the media on Tuesday.
The current arrangement which sees the FAI run the league is due to finish at the end of the current season, which was halted just five games in during March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Hulsizer, who succeeded Mike Treacy as chairman of the Co Louth club at the end of last year, reiterated that he stood over his criticism of the association but dismissed the idea that he was in favour of the league breaking away from the association.
“We had a meeting on Thursday between the League of Ireland and the FAI and it was the most constructive, well organised and informative meeting I have ever attended while here in Ireland,” said Bill.
“I believe that the league and the FAI are united on taking Irish football in the right direction and while I am pleased with how things have progressed I have not closed my eyes. The proof of the pudding is in the eating and we now need to build on this progress.
“What I said I absolutely stand behind but at this point I feel positive that the direction that the FAI want to go in is the right direction and they’ve actually set out on a path in which they can accomplish it.
“It was said that I was a proponent of separating the league from the FAI but I can tell you categorically the worst thing for the league would be to separate from the FAI.
“I think the FAI has to change and they have to change their attitude but the league needs the FAI and the FAI needs the league and we should be moving forward as a partnership. I’m encouraged by what I saw at the meeting but I think we can work together to improve things for all parties.”
Hulsizer said he was pleased with the new FAI’s attitude towards the League of Ireland.
“At our meeting we agreed that the participation agreement was the foundation of progress and we have devised a path to get it done.
“I’ve rarely been in a meeting that was so unified and it was heartening. As much as I’d throw the FAI under the bus in two seconds flat if they deserve it, if they try to do something right they need to get the credit for it.
“There has been a lot of mud spilled on the FAI and everyone blames John Delaney but he didn’t do it by himself but if we get the head supporting the league then the feet have to follow. I don’t know about the foot soldiers but the generals are really trying to be transparent and we’re happy to work with them on that basis.
“My issue was in relation to the participation agreement but after our latest meeting I feel that, they’ve now provided a path so that we can fix it together.”
The 77-year-old refused to be drawn on what the new agreement would entail.
“In any negotiation, and I don’t care who it is with whether it be with a player, a coach or a country, everybody who gets up from the table should feel like they lost something and if you won everything then you probably didn’t ask for enough. That’s where it’s at.”
Hulsizer also expressed his own personal view that an All-Island League was the best way to progress the game here but said he felt it was a number of years away from coming to fruition.
“I think that the All-Island League is probably the best format for the future but my personal view, not as Dundalk chairman but looking at what I see as a businessman, I think we’re two years away at a minimum.
“There are lots of things that need to be done in the interim to make that league successful and the worst thing that could happen to Irish football is to jump in prematurely and have it fail but, again, if everybody says let’s do it and let’s make it work then it greatly increases the chances of it working.
“If you had told me that a company that makes vacuum cleaners could re-engineer their production line in a week and start turning out 500 ventilators a day, I would have said that’s crazy but you know what? They did it. So it just depends on how hard and how unified everybody wants to work,” he said.