Irish football's €50 million rescue deal set to be voted on

Doubts continue to be raised over whether the summit of the 79 council goes ahead in a meeting format due to coronavirus.

A view of FAI HQ in Abbotstown.
A view of FAI HQ in Abbotstown.
Image: ©INPHO

A €50 MILLION rescue deal for Irish football will be voted upon by Football Association of Ireland council members tomorrow, likely by email.

Doubts continue to be raised over whether the summit of the 79 council goes ahead in a meeting format due to coronavirus.

The developing issue forced the FAI to switch the meeting from their Abbotstown headquarters to a larger hotel room at the Castleknock Hotel but several delegates are refusing to attend.

This evening, interim chief executive Gary Owens offered delegates the opportunity of casting their vote by email. If a majority agree by 8.30am tomorrow, the meeting will be called off to facilitate the email vote.

FAI officials are eager to have the bailout formalised in order to release funds for essential outgoings, such as next week’s monthly wages to staff.

The deal, involving support from the state, Uefa and the Bank of Ireland was agreed in principle on 30 January and has been subject to due diligence since.

With that phase complete, as per the FAI constitution, majority approval from the council is required.

The association is nursing debts of close to €70m, the extent of which was only ascertained in the fallout from the controversy surrounding former chief executive John Delaney.

Exactly a year ago, his failure at the High Court to prevent The Sunday Times publishing details of a secretive €100,000 bridging loan to his employers two years earlier set in motion an unprecedented and ongoing period of upheaval.

Delaney and his fellow board members have all been cleared out under direction of the government and the new regime have staved off the threat of liquidation.

Foremost to the deal is extending the maturity date on the primary €28.5m loan from 2021 to 2030.

It is expected that the €15.7m balance will then be refinanced.

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In addition, an upfront €14m loan is being supplied for cashflow purposes, to be repaid from 2022-2028 at €2.5m per annum directly from the Uefa centralised television deal.

There is the option until December 2021 of increasing this particular stream by €10m, entitled a Revolving Credit Facility (RCF).

The raft of reforms at committee level will be dealt with an emergency general meeting on 30 April.

Any rules changes, such as a proposal to evenly split the 12-person board with independent and footballing representatives, requires a two-thirds majority at that summit.

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John Fallon

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