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Sport Ireland echo Shane Ross's demand that FAI President stand down

The mess at the FAI was under discussion again today at Government buildings.

Donal Conway.
Donal Conway.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

SPORT IRELAND HAVE today echoed Sports Minister Shane Ross’ demand that FAI President Donal Conway stands down from the Association.

Ahead of the FAI AGM on 27 July, Mr. Conway was nominated unopposed to continue as FAI President, which Minister Ross says is in contravention to Mr. Conway’s April promise that the entire Board stand down at that AGM. 

“Contrary to this commitment”, wrote Minister Ross, “you have now been effectively re-elected as President of the FAI- you have been, somewhat unexpectedly, unopposed for this position. This was a reversal of your promise to bring reform to the FAI under a new leadership.” 

Speaking today at a meeting with an Oireachtas Committee on Sport, Sport Ireland CEO John Treacy says his organisation agree with Minister Ross’ assertion. 

“Our view is that nobody should go forward”, said Mr. Treacy. “We met the FAI on Friday, and articulated clearly that nobody should go forward.”

Speaking alongside Mr. Treacy, chairman Kieran Mulvey added it was his organisation’s understanding that, when the FAI Board said they would be standing down, “they wouldn’t be standing up again.” 

Mr. Conway has been an FAI Board member since 2005. 

Mr. Treacy said it was “disappointing” that other members of the FAI Council – the 58-person body from which the President is drawn under current rules – had not stepped forward to show leadership. 

The FAI hold an EGM on Saturday in a bid to pass rule changes necessary for the adoption of recommendations from a report into the FAI’s governance structures.

Mr. Treacy praised Mr. Conway’s work in selling these reforms to AGM members in recent weeks. A two-thirds majority is needed to pass the reforms at Saturday’s EGM.

“Going around the country, Donal Conway had led a lot of the meetings, and he is seen as the reform agenda person and has done a lot to drive reform forward in the last few months.

“He stepped in and calmed the waters at FAI HQ. He stepped in and added some value, but we are clearly of the view that everyone should stand down at this stage.”

Sport Ireland have made the adoption of these recommendations a condition of their reinstating of State funding to the FAI, but it is one of the report’s recommendations that allows Mr. Conway to continue in his role. 

The report recommended that one or two members of the present seven-person Board remain on an interim Board for another 12 months for handover and transition purposes. 

Aidan Horan, who chaired the group who produced the report, explained at the Committe that this recommendation has been made as it was “considered a more serious risk that everyone who has insight, knowledge, relationships, and corporate memory walk away.”

Ruth Coppinger TD was critical of this recommendation of the report, saying that it had “placed continuity over a clean sweep.”

Mr. Treacy also echoed Minister Ross’ criticism of the appointment of Noel Mooney as interim General-Manager of the FAI. Mr. Mooney is on secondment from Uefa, and is a former FAI employee and has been on record in stating his support and admiration for former-CEO John Delaney. 

“The FAI need a public face that the public could look at and say, ‘Yeah. That’s a good move…that decision wasn’t made”, said Mr. Treacy. 

“In terms of public trust, that hasn’t been fulfilled. Noel Mooney has his assets, but in terms of public trust, the FAI needed someone with profile, independence, and experience. 

“That was a missed opportunity.”

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About the author:

Gavin Cooney  / Reports from Leinster House

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