Kelly to leave Airtricity League for new role in USA
FAI Elite Referee Alan Kelly has announced that he will be leaving the Airtricity League and FIFA panels at the end of the season to take up a new and exciting position with the Professional Referee Organisation (PRO) in the United States in the New Year.Kelly has been appointed as the new Assistant Training and Development Manager with PRO and may continue his refereeing career in America.
A graduate of the FAI's first ever School of Excellence for Referees in 1999, Kelly has been a FIFA Referee since 2002 and has officiated at Champions League and Europa League games as well as international level. The 38-year-old Corkman will see out his domestic and international refereeing commitments between now and the end of the year before heading to America.
PRO is an independent company responsible for managing the referee and assistant referee program in professional soccer leagues in the United States and Canada and works alongside the US Soccer Federation, Major League Soccer, Canadian Soccer Association, the North American Soccer League, United Soccer League PRO and the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. The organization's targets are to increase the quality of the officiating in the US and Canadian professional leagues, develop more professional-quality officials at a younger age and produce officials who will represent the United States and Canada in FIFA competitions.
Kelly, who has established himself as Ireland's top referee, admits that it is a challenge he is eagerly looking forward to.
"This is a very exciting opportunity for me on a professional level. To work with a full-time professional organisation and dedicate my time to refereeing, be it from an education and development perspective or on the field of play, is something that I have always aspired to and it is an opportunity that myself and my family are very much looking forward to," said Kelly, who is married with two children.
"Leaving the Airtricity League and UEFA (as an International Referee) is something that I had not thought about and it was an incredibly difficult decision to make. However, once I found that this opportunity offers a very different challenge, it would have been a regret that would have followed me around had I not accepted it."
The Chairman of the FAI Elite Referees Committee, John Ward, said they fully supported Kelly's decision to take up his new role in America.
"It is a great opportunity for Alan and his family and he goes to America with our best wishes. As one of the first graduates from our School of Excellence he has been an excellent role model for young referees and he has shown those coming behind him what can be achieved if they apply themselves properly to their careers. Obviously, Alan will be a loss to Irish refereeing but his departure offers others the chance to step up to the plate and take his place and I am confident that they will," said Ward.