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FAI chief Barrett: Wembley 'Videogate' saga blown out of proportion

He did not deny the scale of the reaction was fuelled by the FAI’s own statement on the issue.

Stephen Kenny.
Stephen Kenny.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

FAI CHAIRPERSON ROY Barrett says the media reaction to last year’s ‘Videogate’ issue was overblown and did not deny that an FAI statement fuelled the scale of that fallout. 

The UK Daily Mail reported in November that some senior players in the Irish dressing room were left shocked by the political nature of a motivational video and team talk delivered by manager Stephen Kenny ahead of a friendly defeat to England and Wembley. 

The FAI released a statement to the Mail – and subsequently to The42 when it was requested – saying they were “aware of issues surrounding content” shown to the team, and were “already looking into this internally as a matter of urgency, in order to establish the facts.” 

The subsequent fact-finding by outgoing CEO Gary Owens found Kenny had no case to answer, and Kenny later described the video as a “non-story.” The Irish manager said he believes the leak of dressing room information did not come from his players, but there may be people “behind the scenes or elsewhere” acting to damage his team. 

Publicly addressing the issue for the first time at a press conference earlier this week, FAI Chairperson Roy Barrett said the matter was overblown. 

“The outcome of what happened is that things were said in a dressing room that didn’t seem to be too offensive to anybody, to be frank. And it’s in the context of a dressing room environment. When I look at the facts and understand what happened, I don’t think we should have been in the realm of where we were in terms of a big media discussion about it. What we found out didn’t warrant it.”

When it was put to him that much of the media discussion was driven by the initial FAI statement, Barrett said, “I can see that. I’m not denying it. When I look at terms such as ‘investigation’ and ‘urgently’ and all of that, that’s fine.” 

(Though the word ‘investigation’ took hold in much of the reporting of the story, it wasn’t included in that initial FAI statement.) 

Barrett also said Kenny has not told him who he believes is the source of the leak, and repeated that Kenny retains the full support of the FAI board. 

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roy-barrett File photo of Roy Barrett. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Elsewhere, Barrett confirmed the FAI are implementing a new ticketing policy this year, which he promises to be transparent and an improvement on the previous system. 

“The policy was a lot looser than you would have wanted it to be, there was probably an unfairness about aspects of how they were allocated as well. In fairness to the Executive Team they looked at it completely afresh, objectively and from the perspective of the best interests of the organisation. 

“Certainly the policy is reflective of that effort, and is better and fairer from the perspective of the organisation and those who will be getting the tickets.” 

Barrett also declared himself satisfied with the level of State Covid-19 relief that was granted to the FAI last year. The football body were granted €13.2 million from the government, though The42 understands the FAI requested closer to €20 million.

For comparison, the GAA were granted €31 million and the IRFU €18 million. 

Barrett says he isn’t sure that the FAI’s smaller share is a legacy of the financial mismanagement of the FAI in the John Delaney years, which led to last January’s State bailout of the Association as it teetered on the brink of insolvency.

“I’m not sure. I am not going to give the number we applied for, but relative to what we applied for I thought it was a very reasonable outcome. I don’t know what the other organisations applied for. 

“I wasn’t disappointed relative to the others. The business models of those organisations are quite different and in the case of rugby very significantly different. We don’t have a payroll where the organisation is playing the players.

“You can’t spend life looking at what other people got. We just have to be grateful for what we got.” 

Barrett also said the board have not considered whether the FAI will take legal action against former CEO John Delaney, and did not say whether any potential action is precluded by the terms of Delaney’s €462,000 severance settlement in 2019. 

About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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