Some opposition anticipated as FAI Council set for vote to approve terms of government bailout

In spite of the importance of the State aid, there is opposition to certain reforms among some voting Council members.

Niall Quinn, Shane Ross and interim CEO Gary Owens at the announcement of the government bailout of the FAI in January.
Niall Quinn, Shane Ross and interim CEO Gary Owens at the announcement of the government bailout of the FAI in January.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

NEXT MONDAY IS set to be the latest crunch day in the rescuing of the Football Association of Ireland, as the FAI Council is set to meet at the Association’s HQ in Abbottstown to approve the financing package from the government. 

With the FAI facing liabilities of more than €63 million, the crisis-ridden football body were rescued from the precipice in January when they agreed a government bailout worth €19.2 million.

The granting of the money from the State is subject to wide-ranging reform within the FAI, consistent with outgoing sports minister Shane Ross’ desire to “clear out the old guard” and agreed in a Memorandum of Understanding signed by Ross and independent FAI chairperson Roy Barrett. 

Among the reforms is the barring of former Board members from serving on any other FAI sub-committees, the reconstituting of the FAI board to comprise six independent directors and six directors elected from the FAI’s football constituencies, and the resignation of any FAI Council members with more than 10 years’ service at the AGM later this year.

This latter reform would include the resignation of President Gerry McAnaney, who was elected to his position in January of this year. 

Under the terms of the governance reform accepted last year, those members with 10 years’ service were permitted up to a further three years’ service. 

Sources indicate to The42 that there is opposition to these reforms among some members of the FAI Council, and there is some doubt as to whether they will attain the simple majority needed to approve the refinancing. 

“It’s unbelievable that there may even be a question mark over whether to approve the package and hopefully it will pass comfortably, but some people seem to have a difficulty with letting go”, one Council member told The42. 

Speaking to The42 on Friday, FAI Interim Deputy CEO Niall Quinn confirmed that the FAI have yet to receive the money from the government, but said that “we are seeing light at the end of the tunnel.” 

Shane Ross told the Dáil last week that his department are “finalising the precise terms for the funding agreement, including the terms for recoupment of the grant”, and that he anticipated that terms would be finalised shortly. 

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The FAI Board remains incomplete, and is awaiting the arrival of a fourth independent director. “I’m not on the Board so I’m not privvy to that”, said Quinn when asked if he could shed any light on the matter, “and to be honest with you, I learned after about two weeks in here that there’s a side of the building I want to be on, and that’s football.

“We’re a bit jaded, even I feel jaded with the past 12 months. We hope there is more positivity than negativity to come. There are still bits to come and we recognise that, and maybe the brand will get hit again, I don’t know.” 

Quinn was also unable to put a timeline on the publication of the long-awaited Mazars review of the FAI, commissioned in March last year in the light of The Sunday Times’ revelations about the FAI’s finances during the tenure of former CEO John Delaney. 

“I have no idea, it’s not something I’d go in looking to find out. When is it coming? It will come when it comes. It will come and probably hit us, I get that, but it’s not something I’m sitting dreading.” 

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Gavin Cooney

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