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'That process of reform is still far from complete' - Shane Ross on tonight's meeting with the FAI

The Sports Minster says the government will not fund the troubled organisation.

Minister Shane Ross.
Minister Shane Ross.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

DETAILS HAVE EMERGED after members of the Football Association of Ireland [FAI] Board met with Sports Minister Shane Ross this evening to discuss the future of the troubled sports body. 

The FAI had requested a meeting with the Government, with Vice President Paul Cooke and five directors speaking to Minster Ross and Brendan Griffin in Leinster House tonight.

A statement from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport notes that they will be seeking a meeting with Uefa in the coming days to “intensify the search for a solution to the deep problems inflicted on the FAI.”

It appears there is no guarantee of state funding being restored, and no sign of a rescue package for the under-fire FAI, which has current net liabilities of over €55 million.

“The KOSI report stated that an unreformed FAI was unfit to receive government funding,” Minister Ross and Griffin said. “That process of reform is still far from complete.

The government cannot provide direct financial support to the FAI. We are finalising a mechanism to get our youth field programme funding to the front line. Our priorities are players at every level, staff in the organisation, volunteers across the country and supporters.

“We will be seeking an early meeting with Uefa in the coming days to intensify the search for a solution to the deep problems inflicted on the FAI.”

The remainder of the statement from the Department reads:

“Tonight Ministers Ross and Griffin, with their officials, met with 5 directors and Vice President Paul Cooke, with their financial advisers from Grant Thornton, in Leinster House.

“The FAI directors accepted the need for all previous directors to exit.

“The FAI directors accepted the need for a full change of culture in the organisation.

“The FAI directors accepted the need for the independent Chair and directors to be appointed urgently.

“The FAI directors accepted the need for the appointment of an independent CEO without undue delay.

“The Ministers reiterated that the FAI is in a dark place, the brand has been damaged and much work needs to be done.”

Cooke told reporters afterwards that it was a “constructive meeting,” but would not reveal what was discussed.

The FAI’s Board, in turn, released a statement thanking Ross and Howlin for an “open and honest” meeting.

“The talks were constructive,” said Cooke, as per the association statement.

We outlined our position as regards the current financial situation at the FAI, our ongoing governance reforms and culture change and where we go from here.

“We stressed how the immediate focus of the Board and the Association has to be on the financial restructuring necessary to safeguard jobs, the FAI’s financial future and the appointment of an Independent Chairperson and three Independent Directors.

“We look forward to engaging further with the Ministers and the Department of Sport as we agree on the next steps.”

The emergency meeting is understood to have lasted for roughly an hour and a half.

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