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FAI chief Roy Barrett responds to directors' claims on eve of special meeting

The statement has since earned a reply from Deputy Marc MacSharry. who stands by his criticisms of Barrett.

Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Updated Aug 6th 2020, 8:00 PM

FAI CHAIRPERSON ROY Barrett has warned that it is crucial that ‘the perilous financial situation’ facing the Association is not lost sight of as boardroom divisions have deepened over the contentious Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Government.

On the eve of tomorrow’s crunch Special Council meeting, Barrett has this evening released a statement seeking to clarify facts around the MOU which he signed in late January on behalf of the FAI.

Last night eight football directors had issued a statement calling on interim CEO Gary Owens to withdraw comments he had made earlier in the day regarded the board’s awareness of the MOU which was signed by Barrett.

The independent chairperson has countered with today’s statement in which he has stressed the importance of the tomorrow’s meeting of the FAI and the EGM at the end of the month.

Barrett has called for all involved to ‘work together as an Association to guarantee the funding becomes available to protect our game’.

The statement reads in full:

“As chairperson of the Board of the Football Association of Ireland, I wish to highlight a number of facts around the Memorandum of Understanding with the Irish Government which I signed on behalf of the Association on January 30th last.

“At a Board meeting of the FAI on January 28th, I updated my fellow directors on discussions with the various stakeholders and they mandated me to reach agreements with the Government, Bank of Ireland and UEFA on a financial package to secure the future of the Association.

“Late on the evening of January 29th, I was furnished with a copy of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Ireland and the Football Association of Ireland in respect of the restoration of funding and the provision of additional funding support to the FAI for the period 2020-2023.

“On the morning of January 30th, I circulated the Memorandum of Understanding to my fellow Board members. Some expressed discontent with elements of the MoU via email but we had all previously accepted that the overriding need was to ensure the financial future of our Association. I subsequently had no hesitation in signing the MoU on behalf of the Association later that day.

“The FAI released two statements (attached), both seen by the full Board, in support of the MoU that afternoon with quotes attributed to our President Gerry McAnaney and myself as chairperson of the Board of the FAI. Both statements welcomed the announcement of the Memorandum of Understanding by Minister Shane Ross and both the President and I thanked all involved in making the agreement possible.

roy-barrett Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

“I also note a statement that day from Marc MacSharry TD, welcoming the agreement, calling it a fresh start for the Association and insisting that the conditions of the MoU must be adhered to.

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“As we prepare for Friday’s Special Council meeting of the FAI, and for an EGM at the end of the month, it is vital that we don’t lose sight of the perilous financial situation that the Association was in last January and continues to face today.

“At this point it is imperative that we all work together as an Association to guarantee the funding becomes available to protect our game, our staff and football in Ireland. I look forward to discussing the MoU with Council on Friday and with our AGM members at our EGM on August 31st.

“Whatever views people may have on the MoU, it has always been the case that the ultimate decision as to whether or not the MoU is agreed to and the funding is released, rests with voting members at the EGM.”

Barrett’s statement has prompted a reply from Deputy MacSharry, who said he supported the MouU as he “assumed all principles of good corporate governance” were in place and said he stands by his comments questioning how the agreement was signed. 

Deputy MacSharry’s full statement reads: 

“On January 30th I welcomed the announcement of the return of funding to the FAI from the state through Sport Ireland.  I assumed all principles of good corporate governance had underpinned the process which appeared to conclude that day. 

“I had not been given a copy of the MOU, but then again neither had any members of the FAI council at that stage.  I assumed it reflected the terms of the Horan Governance Review Group Report which all in politics welcomed the previous July. 

“In the weeks that followed I became aware of a number of governance issues which encouraged me to confer widely and research the details and circumstances concerned which informed both of my contributions to Dáil Éireann on the matter and followed up in numerous media interviews.  I stand over the accuracy of those contributions as confirmed by a majority of the board of the FAI last evening.”

 Updated at 21.45 to include statement from Marc MacSharry 

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