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FAI avoid insolvency as EGM members vote to approve rule changes

The vote avoids another crisis at the Association, and allows the FAI draw down funds from a €20 million State bailout.

A view of FAI HQ at Abbottstown.
A view of FAI HQ at Abbottstown.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

MEMBERS OF THE FAI have tonight agreed to a series of rule changes necessary to trigger a State bailout of the Association and avoid insolvency.

A series of resolutions easily obtained the two-thirds majority needed to pass.

The vote was held virtually from FAI HQ at Abbottstown this evening to comply with the government’s Covid-19 regulations. 

The vote avoids another crisis at the Association, and allows the FAI draw down funds from a €35 million State bailout of the debt-ridden organisation, which includes access to an estimated €10 million of the government’s Covid-19 relief fund. 

This vote draws a lengthy and at-times unseemly saga to an end. The rule changes were agreed in a Memorandum of Understanding signed by FAI Independent Chairperson Roy Barrett and then-Sports Minister Shane Ross in January, subject to approval by a two-thirds majority of FAI members at an EGM. 

Two terms of the MoU drew criticism from members: a reconstitution of the FAI board to comprise an even six/six split of independent and elected football directors (it’s presently four/eight in football’s favour) and an obligation of Council members’ with more than 10 years’ service to step aside this year. 

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The second of those rules has been replaced with ‘a fit and proper persons test’ that does not account for longevity, though the first has not been changed, and so the board will change to the even six/six split from next March. 

The process by which the MoU was signed by Barrett caused a ruckus earlier this month too, when the eight football directors released a personal statement refuting a media claim by interim CEO Gary Owens that they fully assented to the MoU prior to Barrett’s signing of it. 

It emerged Barrett signed the agreement without a full board meeting taking place. Instead, the MoU was sent to board members via email the morning it was signed, with a number of directors registering their opposition to some of the terms of the MoU via email. 

Barrett insists he had a mandate to sign the MoU, as previous board meetings made it clear to him his job was to agree a deal to rescue the FAI from insolvency. 

Board unity has been restored somewhat, however, and all 12 members endorsed the MoU ahead of tonight’s vote. 

About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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