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FAI can't present 2018 accounts to AGM given investigations and 'well-publicised issues'

The Association have also announced an EGM to take place ahead of the annual meeting in Trim, at which new structures must be passed to restore funding.

File photo from last year's FAI AGM.
File photo from last year's FAI AGM.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

THE FAI HAVE told members attending the Association’s Annual General Meeting in Trim on 27 July that they will be unable to produce the annual accounts for 2018 given the ongoing investigations and “well-publicised issues” surrounding the football body. 

The Association’s annual accounts are usually published and circulated among members at each AGM but in a letter to members, FAI President Donal Conway wrote that their publication will be adjourned.

“Given the well-publicised issues that have arisen over the last number of months and the investigations that are ongoing”, wrote Conway, “it will not be possible to present the 2018 accounts to the members at the AGM.

“It is therefore necessary that this element of the business of the AGM be adjourned until such time as the accounts are finalised, and the audited accounts can be laid before the members.” 

The FAI have been in crisis since March, when details of a €100,000 bridging loan paid by then-CEO John Delaney to the FAI to cover a cash-flow issue emerged. 

Subsequently, the FAI have had their State funding fully suspended by Sport Ireland for breaking terms and conditions of grant aid, and are being investigated by the Office for the Director of Corporate Enforcement over their finances.

Separately, the FAI have themselves commissioned Grant Thornton to assess their books and consultancy firm Mazars to conduct an extensive audit of the Association.

These are extremely expensive undertakings, and there is great concern about the FAI’s finances as a result. Such is the parlous state of things, Uefa are providing financial assistance to help the FAI through choppy waters.

There have been whispers that finances at this turbulent time are worse than expected, although the FAI strongly rejected SIPTU’s claim on 15 May that they are in danger of “being insolvent in only a matter of weeks.”

Conway did, confirm, however, that the Association’s plans to be debt-free by 2020 “could be pushed out ten years and further.”

Amid this turbulence, the FAI have been working with Uefa and Grant Thornton to devise a new financial plan which is expected to be finalised soon. 

Donal Conway FAI President Donal Conway. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

The restoration of State funding is contingent on the FAI adopting proposals to reform how they are structured, recommended by a Governance Review group last month.

These proposals must be passed by a two-thirds majority at the AGM on 27 July, and Conway has called an EGM a week before that to facilitate the implementation of the first phase of these recommendations, which include changes to the Board. 

Although the entire Board had promised Sports minister Shane Ross they would step down at this EGM, the Governance Review group recommended that one or two of the seven remaining members remain on the board for a year to help implement reform. 

In his letter, Conway urged AGM members to accept the changes.

The FAI have been conducting “Governance Review Roadshows” to explain and sell the changes to voting members, although there is some doubt as to whether they will pass – Schoolboys’ FAI Chair John Early quit the FAI Board in protest at the proposals and there has been speculation that his group will block-vote against the changes. 

I cannot over emphasise the importance of our members voting in favour of the proposed resolutions at the AGM, and separately at the EGM, as the passing of these resolutions will help to deliver change and improve the way in which the Association is governed,” wrote Conway. 

In the same letter, he said the FAI Board have accepted responsibility for the situation the Association now finds itself in. 

“The Board are of the view that a reform of the Association’s governance structure is long overdue and accept responsibility for not having acted on this issue much earlier.”

The venue for the EGM on 20 July has yet to be announced.  

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Gavin Cooney

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