2020 vision makes FAI figures look all the more daunting

Association continues to maintain it will be debt free in seven years despite scale of current difficulties

Michael Pentland aged 10 from Belfast, Northern Ireland watches a Carling Cup game from an empty stand. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Michael Pentland aged 10 from Belfast, Northern Ireland watches a Carling Cup game from an empty stand. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Sat, Jul 6, 2013, 01:00

The financial boost it received from the Ireland team’s participation in Euro 2012 does not appear to have moved the FAI any closer to meeting its own 2020 deadline for paying off its huge borrowings on the Aviva stadium, with accounts for 2012 showing that the association owed €63 million at the end of last year, just €1.2 less than it did 12 months previously.

Uefa finance director Josef Koller recently confirmed that he had attended a meeting with the FAI’s biggest creditor, Danske Bank, in order to reassure them about the European organisation’s support for the association. The accounts give a pretty good idea of what was probably being discussed with €58.89 million listed as due for repayment over the course of the next five years as of December 31st, 2012.

The association, whose financial difficulties have already resulted in several waves of redundancies, pay cuts and other cost cutting measures up at Abbotstown, has thus far only been paying interest on the debt it incurred to foot its share of the construction costs of the loss making stadium, although this accounts for the bulk of the €4.81 million it paid in “interest and similar charges” last year.

During 2013, however, it is scheduled to start paying off the principal, modestly at first, with just €1 million due this year but the numbers are due to rise dramatically from there with €5 million to be paid next year and then, as things stand, €52.89 million due between 2015 and 2017.

The latter figure would clearly be unmanageable for an organisation that turned over €39.66 million last year, a decline of some €5.5 million on the previous 12 months. And this during a year in which the senior team participated at Euro 2012, something that earned the association €8 million in prize money from Uefa, who also paid every affiliated association what was effectively A €3 million dividend from the hugely lucrative tournament.

The FAI’s accounts make barely any mention of the event or the resulting payments and it is not even clear whether the money was paid during the calendar year in question – a request to the association for clarification on the matter was declined and Uefa referred a similar request back to the FAI . But Uefa’s accounts, which run to June 30th 2012 state that the €11million has been paid and strongly suggests that it was paid during the relevant period.

If that is the case, then the Euro 2012 related income prevented a far more profound drop in revenues, one that can only be partly explained, as the Directors’ Report attempts to explain the €5.5 million fall, in terms of less home games having been played.

Despite this the directors are apparently as upbeat as ever with their report claiming that “the association has a business plan in place which identifies it will generate sufficient cashflow to facilitate repayment of this financing” (its stadium related borrowings) “in line with agreed repayment terms”.

New Stadium Limited, meanwhile, the joint venture company which is co-owned by the IRFU and which operates the stadium itself, made, the accounts reveal, an operating loss of €1.08 million in 2012.