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Donal Conway to seek reelection at next week's FAI AGM after 'resounding victory'

The package of 78 recommendations put forward by the Sport Ireland/FAI Governance Review Group was passed with a margin of 116-2 at an EGM this evening.

Donal Conway speaking to journalists after this evening's EGM.
Donal Conway speaking to journalists after this evening's EGM.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

FAI PRESIDENT DONAL Conway has confirmed that he will stand for re-election at next Saturday’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) as he hailed a “resounding victory” in this evening’s Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM).

The package of 78 recommendations put forward by the Sport Ireland/FAI Governance Review Group was passed with a margin of 116-2 by the association membership, and Conway revealed that he spoke to Sport Ireland chief executive John Treacy immediately after the vote to inform him of the outcome.

However, Conway admitted that he is unsure whether Sport Ireland’s funding, the next tranche of which – €1.3 million – is due in September, will be restored until 2020.

This evening’s vote required a two-thirds majority and succeeded overwhelmingly, with two abstention and 80 no shows, seven of whom sent their apologies for not attending.

While that is around 40 per cent of the total 202 eligible to cast a vote, Conway was in buoyant mood as he praised the membership for “doing the right thing for football in Ireland”.

The Civil Service and University College Cork delegates voted against the motion but the FAI president remained positive.

“I am absolutely delighted with the vote. It was almost a complete majority. The two people who voted against had their reasons – one gentleman had concerns about 70 being the cut off for football administrators while the other had concerns around technical matters.

“This was a resounding vote, showing a real appetite for change, the membership has shown an appetite for reform. They all believe in reform. They believe it is necessary and I thought football people will do the right thing for Irish football.

“This EGM is very much stage one, it is the first stop on a much longer journey.”

The next stop on that journey will be Saturday’s AGM and Conway confirmed that he will not bow to pressure from Sports Minister Shane Ross to step aside and decline the nomination to stand for re-election as president.

Conway left the door open to leaving this month at a media briefing on Thursday, revealing that he would consider his position.

There had also been some disquiet among FAI members about the haste in which reform is taking place, and the suggestion was that there would be pressure put on the current board to postpone the AGM in order for the new committees to properly convene and form a consensus about their place in the new structure.

One of the key recommendations of the Sport Ireland/FAI Governance Review Group stated: “The Board should consist of 12 members: four independent Directors of whom one would be the Chairperson of the Board, the President, Vice-President and six members representative of the football community.”

Those six members of the “football community” will come from various strands within the game and they have until 5.30pm on Wednesday to put forward the name of the person they feel best suited for election to the board.

For example, representatives of one of the potential committees that have been grouped together – the Professional Footballers’ Association of Ireland, Schools, Universities and Colleges, Defence Forces, Football for All, Referees and Supporters’ Group – are planning on gathering on Tuesday in order to discuss their plans.

However, it is now full speed ahead this Saturday with no plans for postponement. “We will proceed with the AGM as planned,” Conway confirmed, before replying directly about whether he would stand for re-election. “Yes, I will.”

Aidan Horan, Donal Conway and Cathal Dervan Governance Review Group chairperson Aidan Horan; FAI President, Donal Conway and Cathal Dervan, FAI Director of Communications. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

In the immediate aftermath of this evening’s vote, Conway also spoke to John Treacy, and the incumbent FAI president stressed that pressure being put on him to step down from the board in order for funding to be restored quicker has led to “anxiety” on his part.

FIFA and UEFA delivered a letter stressing their concern about this

“When I spoke to John, I didn’t say ‘listen, John, turn on the tap now’. We will speak on Monday, probably, and I made it clear that this was the first step. There will be other steps, of course, the conclusion of the KOSI audit (into the FAI’s use of public fund) is important for Sport Ireland.

“The next tranche of funding [from Sport Ireland] is due in September and I don’t know if we will get this tranche of autumn funding. We have always stressed that the fundamental principle of the association is that it’s an autonomous body.

“We stay in touch regularly with FIFA and UEFA and we don’t want to arrive at a point where there is conflict.”

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David Sneyd

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