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Dublin: 11°C Wednesday 12 May 2021

Conway sails through re-election as Paul Cooke voted FAI vice-president

Incumbent Noel Fitzroy dramatically withdrew his nomination for Vice-President to avoid ‘further crisis’ at the Association.

Noel Mooney, Donal Conway and Nowl Fitzroy at today's FAI AGM in Trim.
Noel Mooney, Donal Conway and Nowl Fitzroy at today's FAI AGM in Trim.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

DONAL CONWAY SAILED through re-election as FAI President at today’s AGM in Trim, while Paul Cooke – a past critic of John Delaney – was elected Vice President.

134 delegates voted in favour of Conway’s return, with five voting against along with a single abstention.

Cooke, meanwhile, finished ahead of Gerry McAnaney in a ballot for the position of Vice-President, 80 votes to 57.

The reason it was a two-way vote was because incumbent Noel Fitzroy dramatically withdrew his candidacy for re-election to the position ahead of the vote, saying he found himself in an “impossible situation” in the context of the agreed Governance Review recommendations.

It has been agreed that no more than two Board members go forward on an interim Board for one more year for “handover and transition purposes.”

With Conway re-elected and the Scholbooy’s constituency putting John Earley back on the Board, Fitzroy became the fall-guy.

Earley resigned from the Board on 19 June, two days prior to the publishing of the Governance Review proposals, but their subsequent massaging to allow the schoolboys/girls directly appoint a Board member has brought him back into the fold.

With relations with the government already highly fraught, three into two didn’t go and thus Fitzroy fell on his sword.

He said he did so to “avoid further crisis”, and that his decision was “devastating to me personally, but I make it in the best interests of the Association.”

Conway thanked him, saying he wished to applaud “the honour with which Noel has behaved”, and told delegates that “we should all ensure Noel has a considerable and significant role in football going forward.”

Following his re-election, Conway addressed members to confirm he intends to serve for one more year on the interim Board, as per the recommendations in the Governance Review report.

“I have absolutely no intention of having any involvement at Board level post that interim Board”, said Conway.

“If, in the meantime, there are circumstances in which it would be right for the Association for me to step away, I would not hesitate to do that”, he added.

Conway also confirmed he will remain as Chair of the FAI Board, likely until September, until an independent director is appointed.

There were six people appointed to the Board from the various football constituencies.

Martin Heraghty (Sligo Rovers) and Dick Shakespeare (UCD) were elected from the League of Ireland constituency, while ex-referee Joe O’Brien (colleges) edged out Stuart Gilhooley from the constituency encompassing miscellaneous others.

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Dave Moran and John Finnegan – of the Leinster and Munster Senior Leagues respectively – ascended to the Board from the Amateur game’s constituency.

Discerning readers will notice that all eight Board members thus far are men, meaning all the four independent directors yet to appointed must be female if the FAI are to reach the one-third gender balance they aspire to. The balance will be mandatory in two years.

The Board will now get on with the business of enacting the governance proposals, with delegates told that there are likely to be a series of EGMs called over the next year to enact the necessary rule changes.

Meanwhile, a resolution to re appoint Deloitte as auditors was adjourned until the FAI produce audited accounts for the year.

Elsewhere, there were representatives from Fifa and Uefa present at the AGM, and they met with Sports Minister Shane Ross last night, and interim General Manager Noel Mooney said in his address that “in our hour of need, Uefa, Fifa and our commercial partners are safeguarding the FAI. When we need support, our international partners step in and are caring for us.”

Mooney also confirmed the FAI held interviews this week for the vacant senior women’s manager’s job.

John Delaney was not mentioned by name by anyone throughout the whole meeting.

About the author:

Gavin Cooney  / reports from the FAI AGM, Trim

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