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Minister for Sport, Shane Ross.
Minister for Sport, Shane Ross.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Noel Mooney role not enough to restore government funding to the FAI - Sports minister

Shane Ross has described the FAI’s temporary General Manager as ‘one of the last people on God’s earth suitable for the job.’
May 27th 2019, 6:53 PM 6,621 15

MINISTER FOR SPORT Shane Ross has warned the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) that the temporary appointment of Noel Mooney as the football body’s General Manager is not enough to secure the restoration of State funding. 

Mooney is a Uefa employee, and has been sent on a six-month secondment to Abbottstown while the FAI deals with the chaos and financial pressure wrought by six separate investigations into its finances, practices and governance.

He will begin working with the FAI on 3 June, and is set to return to Uefa by 30 November. 

Once a goalkeeeper for Cork City, Shamrock Rovers and Limerick FC, Mooney went on to work for the FAI, primarily in a marketing role for the League of Ireland.

He joined Uefa in 2011, signing off by hailing former CEO John Delaney as “an inspiration to work with.” He was a guest at the FAI’s AGM in 2017, and told delegates that the FAI were a “super federation” and among the best-run in Europe. 

Minister Ross was scathing of Mooney’s appointment in an op-ed in yesterday’s Sunday Independent, citing his history with the FAI as evidence that this is a “backwards step”, writing that “he is one of the last people on God’s earth suitable for this job. There is no going back for the FAI. Going to Noel Mooney is going back to the dark ages.”

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Minister Ross reasserted his opinion of Mooney’s appointment and said that his presence is not enough to restore State funding to the embattled football body. 

“Funding cannot be resumed to the FAI until their corporate governance is in order. I don’t believe that this appointment is a suitable one, and so funding is obviously going to be held back.

“It means to me they are going in the opposite direction. It will not reverse our decision that there will be no drawdown of [the large-scale infrastructure grant fund] unless they come into line with the normal acceptable corporate governance practices.” 

The FAI are currently engaged with Sport Ireland on reforming their corporate governance, with two FAI employees – COO Rea Walshe and Board member Niamh O’Donoghue – sitting on a governance review committee with three Sport Ireland appointees, their task to recommend reforms to how the FAI is run. 

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The adoption of these reforms at the FAI’s AGM in July is a condition of the restoration of State funding. 

Although he has yet to do any interviews with the wider press, Mooney told the FAI’s in-house YouTube channel that he supports this reform effort, saying that the FAI “must change and evolve.” 

Minister Ross’ stakeholders forum, at which he will seek the input of supporters and volunteers on the future of the FAI and Irish football, is taking place at the Mansions House in Dublin this Friday, 31 May. 

Gavan Casey is joined by Murray Kinsella and Sean Farrell for a review of the 2018/19 season, and cast an eye forward to next year and the Rugby World Cup in Japan.:

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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