Bernard O'Byrne: OCI brand is "damaged"

Basketball Ireland CEO is candidate for Olympic Council of Ireland presidency

Bernard O'Byrne, basketball, Ireland, CEO

Chief Executive of Basketball Ireland, Bernard O'Byrne ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

Bernard O'Byrne has admitted that the Olympic Council of Ireland brand has been "damaged".

The Basketball Ireland CEO is one of the candidates bidding to take over as president of the OCI.

Speaking to Off The Ball ahead of the February 9th election, O'Byrne explained where he feels the OCI is at in terms of reputation and standing.

"It's a damaged brand," he said.

"I was at a basketball function in Prague before Christmas and in the usual chat after dinner it was all smiles and winks about tickets and the OCI and whatever - a terrible, terrible image. 

"And no matter how much I explained about our great rowers and our past great history, that's not what jumps into people's minds. So there's a damaged brand there that needs to be corrected and I think one of the ways of doing that is that the president needs to be a stay-at-home president for the next four years. He needs to work in Ireland rebuilding the OCI.

"When you mention the OCI, it should be a positive image in people's minds."

He believes there will be a "sea change" in the OCI after the election and "within a year I think the OCI will be looked on differently than it is at present".

On how he sees his own leadership style, O'Byrne said: "I am a collaborator by my style. I am not a dictator. I won't be handing down edicts."

O'Byrne also feels that a recent shortcoming of the OCI is "we have failed to embrace our Olympians", adding that Olympians have been held at "arm's length".

"I believe that all our Olympians, whether they are Olympic medallists or just Olympians, are willing to come on board and to help. It's just that they haven't really been asked," he said.

O'Byrne also talked about his role in Basketball Ireland and the legacy of his time with the FAI.

He also said a number of "deals have been done" between federations privately in advance of the vote, suggesting that a number of sports federations have colluded ahead of tomorrow night's vote.

"I know there are other deals done in advance of it. I haven’t done any deals. I’ve declared who I’m going to vote for for the officerships," he said.