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Government ask the FAI to reconsider controversial Noel Mooney appointment

Sports minister Shane Ross is hoping the football body reconsider the arrival of a former FAI employee on a six-month relief mission from Uefa.

A general view of the FAI logo.
A general view of the FAI logo.

SPORTS MINISTER SHANE Ross says he met with the FAI last week to ask them to reconsider the contentious appointment of Noel Mooney as the Association’s General Manager on a six-month secondment from Uefa. 

It was announced earlier this month that Mooney will work at Abbottstown for six months, beginning on Monday, to help the Association through its current crisis. It is thought that Uefa are making up to €10 million available in relief to a beleaguered Association feeling the pinch of six separate, ongoing investigations. 

Mooney is a former League of Ireland goalkeeper and was once an employee of the FAI’s – he worked in a marketing role for the League of Ireland before joining Uefa in 2011. When working at the FAI Mooney had close ties with then-CEO John Delaney, whom he described as an “inspiration.” Mooney was also a guest at the FAI AGM in 2017, where he congratulated the FAI as a “super federation.”

Ross was highly critical of Mooney’s appointment in an op-ed in last week’s Sunday Independent, saying that his close ties to the previous regime made him “one of the last people on God’s earth suitable for this job”, adding that “there is no going back for the FAI. Going to Noel Mooney is going back to the dark ages.”

Speaking to the media ahead of the Irish football stakeholders forum at the Mansion House this morning, Ross confirmed that he met with the FAI to ask them to reconsider his appointment. 

“It doesn’t help matters, Noel Mooney being appointed, of course it doesn’t”, said Ross. 

“That’s a decision which the FAI has certainly provisionally made. Hopefully it’s one they’ll change their mind on. I’ve spoken to the FAI.

“We had a meeting, [Junior Sports Minister] Mr Griffin and I, with the FAI last week and we asked them to reconsider.

“I hope that they are reconsidering that at the moment because it would fracture relations further if they did take a step back. They’ve taken a step forward in saying they’re going to resign, that’s something which we would thoroughly welcome. 

“I think it would be a step back if they decided to appoint, without any transparent process, a General Manager who hasn’t been through a process and is not independent, having been with the FAI in the past.” 

The current FAI Board have promised the Minister they intend to resign at the forthcoming AGM in July, although there have been reports that some board members are considering running for re-election immediately. 

Shane Ross TD Sports minister Shane Ross. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Ross reiterated his expectation that the incumbents do not run again. 

“The board of the FAI wrote to Minster Griffin and me a few weeks ago and said they were going to step down and as far as I’m concerned that is still the situation – and that is what we would expect of them.” 

The stakeholders’ forum has brought together a wide range of figures in Irish football, with their roundtable discussions and suggestions for the future to be recorded, collated and published. 

This document will also be submitted to the FAI’s Governance Review Group, which is currently meeting to recommend changes to the FAI’s corporate governance structure. Their findings are expected to be published in three weeks’ time. 

These recommendations will be voted on at the forthcoming AGM, and the restoration of State funding to the FAI is contingent on their being adopted. 

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Gavin Cooney

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