FAI appoints Marc Canham to Director of Football role


FAI appoints Marc Canham to Director of Football role

The Football Association of Ireland has today appointed Marc Canham as Director of Football in a new role which will see him work with FAI staff and all stakeholders in setting, driving and delivering the Association’s overall football, technical and development strategies in support of transformational change in Irish football.
16th Jun 2022

The Association is also delighted to announce the appointment of John Morling to a Senior Football Consultant role.

Passionate about the development of football from Grassroots to the highest level, Marc Canham will join the FAI on August 1st from his current role as Director of Coaching with the Premier League in his native England. Hugely respected within football and the professional game, Marc is a highly-motivated strategic leader with 21 years of experience from playing and coaching to management and senior strategic leadership roles in football.

Marc’s playing career spanned over 450 professional and non-league games, including Colchester United FC, and AFC Bournemouth. He has specialised in development across youth football, and wider technical and football development, including coaching and leadership. A UEFA Pro Licence coach and qualified Technical Director, Marc worked at the English FA from 2007 to 2012, working in grassroots football with Clubs and Schools, including the delivery of Coach Education, and then worked up to the Head of Academy Coaching role at Bristol City in 2012 before joining the Premier League in 2013.

During his nine years with the Premier League, he has been instrumental in the successful implementation of the Premier League’s Elite Player Performance Plan which has led to an increase in the number and quality of home-grown players playing in the Premier League and seen the progression of young home-grown coaches at Academy and First Team level. 

Marc has led many of the transformations in English professional academies, including the creation of bespoke and individualised coach development programmes with clubs, modernisation of coach education and development in partnership with key football stakeholders. He has overseen the implementation of a multi-million-pound programme to appoint a full-time Head of Coaching in every category 1-3 football club and led the increase of full-time coaches working in professional academies from 250 to over 850.

A significant development under Marc’s leadership was the creation of an Integrated Coaching Strategy, where all English professional football partners have committed to a joined-up long-term vision and plan for coaching, education and development, and career pathways for coaches. 

“I am really excited to take up this opportunity to work in partnership with everyone in Irish football to build on the excellent work by so many to date and to realise the FAI’s onward vision for the future of the game,” said Marc.

"Collaboration and teamwork are the key values of how I work and operate. I look forward to working closely with everyone within the Irish game, from Grassroots to collaborating with our international managers as we bring the FAI’s Strategy 2022-2025 to life and change football for the better for every man, woman, boy and girl who plays our game. With the right commitment to an open and consultative approach, together we can deliver on the strategy in a positive and transformational manner.

“I am, along with my family, thrilled to be moving to Ireland. Having Irish grandparents, I have always followed the fortunes of the Republic of Ireland international teams. I hope we can work collectively to bring many more exciting memories for all and to use football to inspire the nation and connect communities.”

Reporting to FAI CEO Jonathan Hill and a key member of the FAI’s Senior Leadership Team, Marc will also review, set and deliver key technical and football development strategies in consultation with the key stakeholders within Irish football as per the overarching player-centric Football Development Strategy that is a key part of the FAI’s 2022-2025 Strategy and vision. He will also develop and lead the new strategic direction of the FAI across Football for Women and Girls, one of the core pillars of the FAI’s Strategic Plan.

Marc will also lead the review of all aspects of current FAI football systems, approaches and programmes, transforming where necessary with innovation, data and analytics and sports science and will assess, lead and provide technical input across our coach education infrastructure, ensuring alignment with UEFA coaching convention regulations and the needs of Irish football, particularly reviewing the needs of evolving FAI Club Mark structures.

In his new role, Marc will also provide leadership, input and oversight of all aspects of Irish football including the wider issue of alignment of playing seasons, competition and League structures to include a review of what a revised Irish football ‘pyramid’ could look like in the future.

“The appointment of Marc Canham to our new Director of Football role is a really progressive decision and one we are very excited by,” said FAI CEO Jonathan Hill. “Marc offers real experience in delivering change across complex football structures and stakeholders and we look forward to his leading such a process here as envisaged in our FAI Strategy 2022-2025. I trust his dynamic and all-inclusive approach will deliver across all levels of our game, proactively addressing both opportunities and challenges within the Irish game itself and I look forward to welcoming him to the FAI in August.”

In addition to this key appointment, the FAI is also delighted to announce that John Morling will take up his role as Senior Football Consultant next week. A former manager of the Republic of Ireland Under-15s, Under-16 and Under-17 Men’s teams and Player Development Manager with the FAI, John was most recently employed as Academy Manager at Premier League club Brighton & Hove Albion, a role he held for almost 10 years.

Utilising his knowledge of football in Ireland and his expertise in nurturing young talent, John will report into Marc Canham and will provide support on young Irish player development in particular, in line with the FAI Strategy 2022-2025. John’s support role will also include contributing to the creation of a Football Development strategy, reviewing the structure of the League of Ireland and FAI competitions, the Women’s Football Development plan, a review of underage football for boys and girls, League of Ireland Academies and support to the FAI coaching and education teams.

“I am really excited to be returning to the Football Association of Ireland in this consultancy role,” said John Morling. “I enjoyed every minute of my time with the Association previously and I know how exciting the future is for football at all levels of the game in Ireland as we strive to work together in a collaborative manner that will deliver the best opportunities for all players and coaches whatever their level of football.  I am also looking forward to supporting Marc at such a crucial time for the game we all love.”

Welcoming John Morling back to the FAI, CEO Jonathan Hill said: “John’s broad knowledge of Irish football and his previous experience in the Association will be hugely beneficial to us but just as important is his experience in the development of young players at Brighton including several Irish players. Together with Marc’s leadership of a newly created Football Development strategy, John’s knowledge and ideas are going to be hugely beneficial to the successful delivery of this plan as we set new standards for our game at all levels.”