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Two board members set to stay on as FAI and Sport Ireland reveal reform plans

In spite of a promise for the entire Board to step down, it has been recommended that one or two of them stay on for a year.

FAI Offices at the National Sports Campus.
FAI Offices at the National Sports Campus.
Image: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

ALTHOUGH THE PRESENT FAI Board have resolved to step down at the forthcoming AGM in July, the football body’s joint governance review group with Sport Ireland has recommended that one or two incumbents remain on to form an interim Board to serve until the 2020 AGM. 

The two bodies’ Governance Review group today published their final report recommending the structural changes necessary for the restoration of State funding to the embattled football body. 

The report recommends the formation of a new 12-person Board, four of whom will be independent. It is also hoped that four members of the new Board will be female, and this balance will be mandatory in two years. 

The report says that the Chair of the reconstituted Board will be independent, rather than the FAI President, as is currently the case.

It also says that the CEO should not be a Board member, which had been the case until John Delaney assumed the role of Executive Vice-President in March of this year. The report recommends abolishing the roles of Honarary Treasurer and Secretary, currently vacant following the resignations of Eddie Murray and Michael Cody. 

Although Sports minister Shane Ross has repeatedly said he expects the present Board to step down in July, the report says that “for handover and transition purposes and to manage the serious risks where everyone leaves at once, at least one or possibly a maximum of two members might consider putting themselves forward for positions on the interim Board.” 

The independent members will be selected by a new Nominations Committee. The report says that this committee should be small, have external representation and have an external expert in recruitment. It is also envisaged that the FAI President sit on this Committee. 

The six football representatives on the Board are to be elected by the FAI Council, as is currently the case, and the roles of President and Vice-President are to be elected at the FAI AGM.

Elsewhere, the report was critical of the vague descriptions of the FAI President’s role in the present FAI rulebook, and along with drawing a clearer list of responsibilities, it also encouraged a clarification on the Chief Executive’s roles and responsibilities, and called for the Board to consistently report on the CEO’s performance. 

Under the new recommendations, the CEO will be allowed to attend Board meetings but will not be a member of the Board and it encourages the new FAI Board to hold private sessions with the CEO absent. 

The adopting of these recommendations is necessary for the restoration of State funding to the FAI. They will now be voted on at the FAI AGM at the end of July, and will require a two-thirds majority from 175 voting delegates to pass. 

Other key recommendations include: 

  • The Board needs to ensure a robust culture of ‘holding to account’ operates and is seen to operate within the organisation.
  • All grant of funding arrangements above a defined threshold, e.g. €10,000, should be presented to the Board for review and approval. 
  • All funding agreements should be proposed to the Board, irrespective of any agreed thresholds or approval processes. 
  • The Association should immediately make arrangements for the establishment of an internal audit function. 
  • The limit for all members of the Board should be eight years, 4×2 year terms.
  • There should be a maximum term limit of 10 years for members of Council. 

The full report is available to read here. 

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About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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