‘No question’ of bailout for FAI, says Ross

Staff ‘none the wiser’ about potential job losses following talks with management

Minister for Sport Shane Ross has said there is "no question" of a bailout for the Football Association of Ireland being agreed at crisis talks to be held on Monday.

Mr Ross agreed to meet the FAI following a series of requests made to him through intermediaries, including colleagues in his Independent Alliance party, late this week.

It is thought the FAI indicated through these intermediaries, who included councillors, department officials and Sport Ireland, that it was facing a serious and urgent situation and needed to speak to Mr Ross as soon as possible.

“There is no question of any money being promised at that meeting and no such suggestion has been made to us either directly or through a third party,” Mr Ross said last night.

The scale of the financial challenge facing the organisation was revealed last week when it published accounts that showed a liability of €55 million, and a loss for 2018 of almost €9 million.

Sticking point

It is understood a major sticking point for the Department is a suggestion in the unpublished report by auditors Kosi that State funding not be restored currently to the FAI, as is the fact that independent directors are yet to be appointed.

“We will be asking questions about why the independent directors have not been appointed yet and looking for an early process for the appointment of a new chief executive and chairman,” Mr Ross said.

News of Monday’s meeting came as staff at the FAI expressed frustration after no clarity emerged on the future of the association during talks with management yesterday.

Denis Hynes, the sectoral organiser representing FAI workers, said employees had sought clarity on a number of matters, including potential job losses, during the talks.

“There was no information forthcoming at all, staff were disillusioned and disappointed with the outcome of the meeting,” he said. “Staff were very disappointed that they’re none the wiser.”

Financial difficulties

The FAI has previously said there will be "consequences" for employees at the organisation arising from its deep financial difficulties, which have emerged following the departure of former chief executive and executive vice president John Delaney earlier this year.

Staff had asked at the meeting about job losses and the potential restoration of €2.9 million in State funding for the FAI, much of which goes to support community development officers.

Employees also expressed frustration with the lack of progress on the appointment of four independent directors, which Ms Ross has made one of the key conditions for the restoration of State support. was putting “certain safety measures in place purely as a precautionary mechanism”.

A wider review of security at the headquarters was also carried out.

The FAI cancelled an agreed meeting with the Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport this week, saying key staff and board members were working on a refinancing of its bank debt.