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Funding fallout continues as FAI hits back at St Pat's with 800-word statement

The Saints became the second club to reject the grant last night.

Richmond Park.
Richmond Park.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

THE FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION of Ireland (FAI) has strongly criticised and voiced its ‘extreme disappointment’ at St Patrick’s Athletic’s decision to reject a funding grant.

Last week the FAI announced funding of up to €5,000 for each of the 20 SSE Airtricity League clubs to assist in the completion of five-year strategic plans.

St Pat’s became the second League of Ireland club, following Derry City, to publicly slam the FAI’s support of the domestic game, claiming the association has ‘utterly failed in its responsibility‘.

In a statement released this afternoon, the FAI has responded to the Saints’ objection, claiming the club’s stance is ‘astonishing’ after Frank Kinsella, of St Patrick’s Athletic, was one of three club representatives at the FAI AGM last weekend.

“The Football Association of Ireland expressed its extreme disappointment with the decision by St Patrick’s Athletic FC to reject a funding grant to assist with providing a future business plan for all SSE Airtricity League clubs,” it reads.

“The decision by the club to refuse the payment, which will help to roadmap a financially strategic and deep-rooted community structure, is all the more astonishing given that St Patrick’s Athletic were one of the clubs who agreed to the process, in the first place.

“Since the St Patrick’s Athletic statement was released on Friday evening a host of leading clubs, including Dundalk, Shamrock Rovers, Cork City, Bohemian FC and Galway United – and many others, have come out to support a clear desire to continue to work in partnership with the FAI.

John Delaney FAI CEO John Delaney speaking at the association's AGM last weekend. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“Frank Kinsella, of St Patrick’s Athletic, was one of the three club representatives, along with barrister Michael Cush, who represented the Premier Clubs Association (PCA) – who represent all League clubs – at a meeting with the FAI in Clonmel on August 27.

“At that meeting, it was agreed that a €100,000 grant programme for strategic business planning be put in place for all League clubs, and that a statement would be agreed and released, following ultimate approval by the PCA.

“The PCA, with Frank Kinsella, had welcomed the process where clubs would be assisted financially, in the drawing up of clear business plans for the next five years, which would give a clear pathway for the future of the League.

“At no point during this meeting did Frank Kinsella, as a representative of the PCA or St Patrick’s Athletic, voice his disapproval to the plan, and was, in fact, enthusiastic about the process.

“He, and the other representatives of the PCA, went on the record with the Association at the time and declared it welcomed “the announcement by the FAI, (and) that they will support the clubs in preparing five-year strategic plans by investing €100,000″.

“The PCA and Frank Kinsella also agreed “the significance of both the FAI and the clubs working together on the project shows that there is a positive way forward for both to work together in developing the League of Ireland to a new platform for the benefit not alone of the FAI and the clubs, but the players and fans who support our League”.

“The Association believes that St Patrick’s Athletic’s statement is extremely divisive and utterly dismissive towards smaller clubs: “The (St Patrick’s Athletic) board is of the view that the Association’s move and its timing was deliberately aimed at encouraging non Premier League clubs to stand with the current administrators of our League as the PCA set about its agenda to change”.

Bibs and balls ahead of Rovers warm up The FAI has been widely criticsed for making just €100,000 available to clubs. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The FAI’s Director of Competitions, Fran Gavin, said that the statement by St Patrick’s Athletic was “extremely confusing”.

“‘This is quite extraordinary given that the club’s representative was one of the architects in agreeing the funding initiative in the first place,’ said Gavin.

“‘At no point did Frank Kinsella speak on behalf of himself or his club to voice concerns or otherwise with the funding grant. Nor did he declare that he didn’t want to be part of this latest development in what is an ongoing process.

“‘This is extremely confusing and is quite frustrating that St Patrick’s Athletic have decided that parts of this process, which their representative agreed to, is now not for them.

“‘Many leading clubs have been in touch with me and have announced that they are extremely engaged in what we are all doing together.’

The statement goes on to say the FAI will continue to work towards ‘finding a successful future’ for the League of Ireland.

“Meetings between the FAI and the PCA regarding the future structure and direction of the League have been ongoing since the Consultation Process Report was launched on September 28, 2015.

“The meetings have taken place in an atmosphere of partnership, trust, confidentiality and goodwill. One of the main areas highlights by the Report is the need for the clubs to develop a clear business plan.

“St Patrick’s Athletic’s statement is a disappointing development, but the FAI will strive on and continue to work with the clubs who are committed to finding a successful future for the League.

“The FAI has an extremely positive history in assisting and working with St Patrick’s Athletic in recent times, including through development planning for proposed new facilities and through assistance in preparing Richmond Park for the hosting of UEFA Champions League and Europa League games, and across a broad range of areas.

“The FAI fully expects St Patrick’s Athletic to re-engage with the agreed process, and to remain in a united partnership with its fellow clubs.

“The Board of the FAI will, in the coming week, write to each club outlining the process to date and the next steps forward for the future development of Irish domestic football.”

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