A view of the FAI offices. Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

FAI did not draw down €500,000 in State funding last year due to administrative error

Funding to the Association for 2023 is currently suspended following revelations that the football body were in breach of their bailout agreement.

THE FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION of Ireland did not draw down €500,000 of their State funding in 2022 owing to an administrative error, The 42 has established. 

With 2023 funding to the FAI currently suspended following revelations that the football body were in breach of their bailout agreement with the government by making excessive payments to CEO Jonathan Hill, it has now emerged the FAI did not draw down all the money they were owed last year. 

The FAI published their annual accounts for 2022 yesterday evening, circulating them to the media at 6.14pm. The accounts showed a surplus of €3.5 million, based on turnover of €54 million, which compared to a surplus of €6.7 million on a turnover of €54.3m in 2021. Debts at the end of 2022 were €50.9 million, compared to €63.5 million in 2021.

The press release accompanying the accounts stated the FAI were “also awarded €5.8 million in grant funding of football programmes from Sport Ireland in 2022, in line with the award in 2021.” 

However, the accounts show that the FAI only received €5.3 million of that funding. The FAI declined to comment on the discrepancy when contacted by The 42, but sources say the money was granted to the FAI by Sport Ireland but the football body did not draw it down owing to an “administrative oversight”. 

This money can be drawn down as part of the 2023 funding, which is currently frozen following the revelations about Hill’s pay. Under the terms of the bailout agreement, the remuneration of the FAI CEO must remain in line with government pay guidelines, and must not exceed that of a secretary general of a government department. The FAI are confident all issues have been addressed and funding will be resumed later this month. 

It is understood Sport Ireland will evaluate Hill’s remuneration across 2022 and 2023 together when setting it against the benchmark contained in the bailout agreement. 

Hill yesterday emailed an apology to all FAI staff, acknowledging the episode has undermined the effort to rebuild trust in the Association. 

Elsewhere, the FAI’s match-related income improved to €9.1 million in 2022, compared with €7.1 million in 2021, while commercial revenues increased to €15.6 million, up from €13.8 million, the bulk of which is driven by a centralised Uefa TV deal. The FAI remains without a primary sponsor. 

The directors’ report accompanying the accounts says the biggest challenge facing the sport in Ireland is the state of the country’s facilities, and earlier this year the FAI unveiled an infrastructure plan, seeking more than €500 million of government investment over the next 15 years to bring facilities up to standard. 

“As outlined in our 2022-2025 Strategy this is the single biggest challenge facing the game at all levels”, reads the report on the matter of facilities.

“At grassroots we are already struggling to meet the demands of the existing population let alone the increased need as a result of the explosion in the women’s and girl’s game coupled with the wider population growth.

“At League of Ireland level, we can all see first-hand that our stadia are not fit for purpose and our academy infrastructure is becoming increasingly important post Brexit as we retain our most promising future talent for longer. When those players do progress to International level our existing facilities at the National Sports Campus are inadequate. As committed to in our strategy we are completing an audit of all facilities to outline the breadth of the challenges and to help develop a roadmap to mitigate this risk which is stopping us from unlocking the full potential of the game.”