Rooney scores with the FAI

30 Apr 2003

Former Baltimore Technologies boss Fran Rooney has been appointed chief executive officer of the Football Association of Ireland (FAI).

The man whose name will be forever synonymous with the five-year rollercoaster that was the internet boom will try his hand at something a little more down to earth when he takes over as head of the FAI in June.

Rooney said his strategy as CEO of the beleaguered football association would revolve around going back to basics. “I believe that the work of the association and its people particularly at grass roots level has at times been overshadowed,” he commented. “The many positive achievements of all connected with the game provide a solid base from which to build future success.

“The association’s main priority is to create the environment to increase participation in football at every level throughout the country and this ambition remains at the core of what the FAI is really about,” he added.

As head of Baltimore in the late Nineties, Rooney became the darling of the investment community and share buying public alike as the company he led came out of nowhere to become one of the most talked-about and hotly-tipped of the dotcoms. For a time, Baltimore even joined the elite ranks of the FTSE 100, an index hitherto dominated by old economy industrial companies and banks. At the height of the boom, Baltimore’s shares traded at over £150 sterling.

Since he parachuted out of Baltimore two years ago, Rooney has invested in a number of other technology ventures. He is chairman of Nirvana Technologies, Addoceo Digital Media, Skillspro the e-learning software developers and Data Direction. Prior to founding Baltimore Technologies, Rooney gained broad experience in the banking, government, and corporate sectors, having earlier served in key roles with National Irish Bank, the Irish Government and Post Office, Quay Financial Software, Meridian International and IIU, Dermot Desmond’s investment vehicle. He was named Businessperson of the Year 2000.

Rooney is a somewhat obvious choice for FAI chief as, in addition to his vaunted commercial experience, he has long been involved in the Irish football scene as a former player and coach. He is a former manager of the Republic of Ireland women’s soccer team, national director of coaching for women’s soccer in Ireland, as well as a member of council of the FAI.

By Brian Skelly