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'I believe in getting s**t done' - New faces on board as FAI aims to move on from crisis

TV Executive and Cabinteely chairman Larry Bass is optimistic about the future of the FAI and a possible all-island league.

Larry Bass speaks to the media.
Larry Bass speaks to the media.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

IRISH FOOTBALL MAY be convulsing amid a months-long crisis, but it doesn’t want for people eager to get involved in the process of reform. 

Cabinteely FC Chairman Larry Bass, who is the CEO of television production company ShinAwil, has been appointed to the FAI’s Finance Committee, and he made his motivation for getting involved pretty clear. 

“I believe in getting shit done”, Bass told the media at FAI HQ today.

“Significant, high-impact things. The only way to get shit done is to get involved and roll up your sleeves.

“I got involved in our local club as my son and my daughter played there, and I’ve watched that club grow. The only way to get anything done is by getting involved.

“The finances of the FAI have been well-publicised, they need some attention and help. If I can bring some help, I’ll definitely give it my full attention.

I will ask as many far-reaching questions as I can, as a football fan and as Chair of a club with a vested interest in the growth of football in Ireland. When I look at any audited accounts, I sit there proudly and say, ‘I’m not an accountant’, so I ask lots of silly questions. I don’t believe there is a silly question; a silly question is the question that’s not asked. I’m going to ask them all.

“That’s how I try to run my business, a difficult business, television in Ireland another under-resourced area, I’m used to going with the begging bowl and trying to find out how to re-invent the wheel.

“I am as interested as anyone in the future of Irish football, and I believe it will be a rosy future.” 

Today was a significant day in the FAI’s slow process of reform, as the new FAI National Council held its inaugural meeting following the adopting of governance reforms necessary for the resumption of state funding. 

There are many more steps to go, though, and the timeline for many of the next steps have been delayed. The Sport Ireland/KOSI audit – expected in the second week of this month – won’t be delivered until the end of November, a similar time frame to the initial report from the Mazars review commissioned by the FAI. 

The reconvening of the AGM to allow 2018′s accounts be presented won’t happen until the end of November or the beginning of December, and the appointment of four independent directors to the board is another few weeks away. 

There are moves afoot for profound change in Irish football beyond just the FAI, however. The All-Island league proposal, championed by a group led by Kerry businessman Kieran Lucid, took a further step last night as clubs met to be further pitched the proposal. 

There is some distance to travel, but it’s anticipated the clubs will vote on whether or not to proceed by the New Year. If they choose to go ahead, they must work with the FAI, IFA and Uefa to bring the idea to fruition. 

Bass was at the meeting to represent Cabinteely, and is positive about the prospect. 

“I thought it was a very interesting discussion. I think what Kieran Lucid and his team have done to date, they’ve engaged and looked at the possibilities for the future. They are certainly all about improving League of Ireland football, Irish league football and football in general.

“There’s a whole industry that needs to be built in football in Ireland. At the moment it’s a cottage industry, it needs to be an industrial industry where people in schools and colleges say they want to work in football.

“We can do it here. They can do it in Denmark and Sweden and other countries smaller than Ireland, so why not in Ireland?

“It starts with league football on the island of Ireland.” 

a-view-of-fai-hq-in-abbotstown A view of FAI HQ in Abbottstown. Source: ©INPHO

Much of the revenue for the putative league hinges on a broadcast deal, and Bass was asked to assess these ambitions given his business background. 

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“In terms of broadcast revenues, we are in the lucky position under the proposed all-island league structure will be one that will follow in its second year – there will be an interim year in its first year if it goes ahead – it will move toward the League of Ireland calendar year.

“That leaves a number of months when there is no other organised football available for broadcasters across Europe, it’s a gap in the market.

“If you want to do well in any business: find a gap in the market.

“It’s English language, Ireland is a great country, it’s fantastic for Irish tourism to be putting Ireland on screens across Europe.

“It might not necessarily come from broadcasters here in Ireland:  sports broadcasters across Europe need content across the summer, especially without a World Cup or European Championship.

“Bring it on.” 

Andrew Doyle, CEO of Sal Sports capital and a lawyer with more than 30 years’ experience, has also been appointed to the Finance Committee. 

Elsewhere, Noel Daly and Sean Brodie, both of whom have extensive audit and risk assessment experience, were elected to the Audit and Risk Compliance Committee. 

Bohemians’ Marketing and Commercial Director Daniel Lambert has joined the Commercial Committee, along with Kevin McDaid, a qualified chartered accountant.

About the author:

Gavin Cooney  / reports from FAI HQ, Abbottstown

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