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Ross confident change of government will not affect potential FAI rescue package

An intense series of talks between the government, FAI, Uefa and Bank of Ireland will take place over the next few days in a bid to rescue the Irish football body.

Shane Ross, pictured after yesterday's meeting with Uefa at government buildings.
Shane Ross, pictured after yesterday's meeting with Uefa at government buildings.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

MINISTER FOR SPORT Shane Ross is confident the election and any subsequent change in government will not affect a potential rescue package for the Football Association of Ireland. 

The football body has debts of around €62 million and are facing examinership and potential liquidation if they cannot secure short-term financing in the region of €18 million.

Minister Ross is adamant the government will not bailout the FAI, and focus has switched to working with Uefa and Bank of Ireland to find a solution. Minister Ross met a Uefa delegation along with Junior Sports Minister Brendan Griffin and FAI Chair Roy Barrett at Leinster House yesterday afternoon with a view to finding a solution to the FAI’s financial crisis. 

All parties described the meeting as “constructive”, with Minister Ross telling reporters afterward that there will be an intense round of discussions between various parties over the next few days, with the ultimate aim to bring everyone around the same table to agree on a solution. 

Uefa met with FAI Executive Lead Paul Cooke and Chair Barrett ahead of the meeting at Leinster House, and met with Bank of Ireland – the FAI’s bank and principal creditor – after the meeting concluded.

Shane Ross plans to meet with Bank of Ireland later today. 

While a solution has yet to be agreed and all parties tight-lipped on the detail of any potential agreement, Minister Ross said he didn’t believe a conclusion is far away, saying, “we’re talking about something happening fairly soon and getting a good result in the near future.” 

Minister Ross added he did not believe the deal would be jeopardised by a change in government. ”

“I see no reason why any change of government would make any too much difference because everybody has the interests of Irish football at heart. This is not a political football. This is something which I have received nothing but support from opposition people as well.”

Elsewhere, Junior Minister Griffin said he had “more optimism” than at any point in the FAI’s crisis in the wake of the talks with Uefa, and while he repeated the government line that they would not be providing the FAI with a bailout – tantamount to “rewarding the sins of the past”, in his own words – he said he is “confident” that FAI staff will be paid this month. 

FAI Chair Barrett was the football body’s only representative in the room yesterday, although Minister Griffin said future talks may bring further board members to the table. 

“The main focus of the meeting was the discussion between Uefa and government, and we felt it was advantageous to have Roy there. He has gone in relatively recently, he has a big task on his hands, but he has got off to a very good start, he has got stuck in. 

“We feel he has a huge role to play into the future, so we felt it important that he would be there. Further engagements may perhaps have more people around the table, all at the same time.

“For today, we felt it was appropriate that we had the people who were around the table. It was a constructive meeting and we’re going to drive on from here and try to get a resolution.”

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Gavin Cooney

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