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Athlone Town call on FAI critic Morton to withdraw letter to Uefa and Fifa

Morton wrote to the highest levels of the game to air his concerns about how the FAI is being reformed.

The doors at FAI HQ.
The doors at FAI HQ.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

ATHLONE TOWN HAVE today called on FAI critic Nixon Morton to withdraw his letter of Fifa and Uefa claiming the recent government bail-out of the football body undermined its sovereignty. 

Morton is a member of the FAI’s decision-making council, and last week drafted a letter to the governing bodies claiming the terms of the bailout are “extraordinarily serious”, and has resulted in “a titanic battle for the heart and soul of football in our country”.

Under the terms of the bail-out, the FAI must adjust its Board of Management to consist of six directors elected from the football constituencies and six external, independent directors. In the event of any split votes, the casting vote is made by independent director Roy Barrett. 

The 50/50 split means the FAI may “potentially [fall] under the control of outside interests which may disregard the views of the democratically elected Football directors”, wrote Morton. 

He also questioned the process by which Barrett was appointed, claiming it “may have been subject to inappropriate influence.” 

Another of the terms of the bailout calls for a radical clear-out of the Council, with members with more than 10 years’ service expected to step aside at this summer’s AGM. Morton is not among those who will have to leave. 

Morton uses the pronoun ‘we’ in the letter, although does not clarify how many people he wrote the letter on behalf of. 

He sent the letter to Fifa Governance Services Manager Sarah Solemale and Uefa Statutory and Regulation Expert Yann Hafner last week, both of whom oversaw the adjourned FAI AGM of July 2019. 

Athlone, whose chairman John Hayden is also a member of Council, have today called on Morton to withdraw the letter, saying the club “in no way supports, shares nor endorses any of the concerns expressed by Mr. Morton.”

They called on him to withdraw the letter, saying the timing of the letter is “regrettable” and “adds nothing to the tough task of repairing the FAI’s public standing.” 

Athlone say the interim CEO Gary Owens and interim Deputy CEO Niall Quinn should be allowed to get on with their jobs, and have called on Morton to reveal the identity and motivations of the persons he claims to have exerted “inappropriate influence.”

The club say they support the agreement that Council members with more than ten years’ service should leave at the next AGM. 

“ATAFC fully supports this move, and does not see why anyone, Fifa and Uefa included, should be concerned by it”, read the statement.

“In light of everything that has become known a clearing of the FAI decks is something that is not just desired, but is required. In order to rebuild faith new, independently appointed people must come and ensure that the FAI is properly run, and not just for the benefit of a select few.

“The changes may end the tenures of persons who had no hand, act or part, in the making of the situation the FAI currently finds itself in. However, the club believes that this move is a price well worth paying.”

The FAI acknowledged the letter, and issued a statement yesterday afternoon to say they are committed to the agreed path of reform, adding they are “available to engage in dialogue with any stakeholder with constructive input during this process.”

Nixon Morton did not respond to The42′s requests for comment via phone and email. 

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Gavin Cooney

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