Rescue package worth more than €30m agreed for FAI

Deal is not a ‘bailout’ but instead marks a ‘new dawn’ for Irish football, says Ross

The Government’s commitment under the rescue plan consists of a doubling of the FAI’s Sport Ireland grant, from €2.9 million to €5.8 million, for the next four years. Photograph: Inpho

The Government’s commitment under the rescue plan consists of a doubling of the FAI’s Sport Ireland grant, from €2.9 million to €5.8 million, for the next four years. Photograph: Inpho

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A rescue package worth more than €30 million has been agreed for the Football Association of Ireland.

The majority of the package will come in the form of new funding from the State, with the Government on Thursday agreeing to provide €19.2 million in new funding, spread across enhanced grants and an interest-free loan.

The remaining value of the package, in excess of €10 million, is made up of increased supports from Uefa and a restructuring of the FAI’s bank debt, The Irish Times has learned.

The Government’s commitment under the rescue plan consists of a doubling of the FAI’s Sport Ireland grant, from €2.9 million to €5.8 million, for the next four years.

A repayable grant worth a total of €7.63 million will be paid to the company which owns the Aviva stadium – which is part-owned by the FAI – over the next three years.

In total, when the new monies are added to grants which had already been approved, state support for the FAI will reach €30.83 million over the next four years.

Minister for Sport Shane Ross, insisting that the package was not a “bailout”, said it marked a “new dawn” for Irish football.

“It took a long time to eradicate the old guard from the upper echelons of the FAI - far too long - and it was a very hard-won battle,” he said.

The package was welcomed by the association itself, with FAI president Gerry McAnaney saying the agreement will “ensure the survival of football in Ireland”.

The new funding package comes at a price, however.

Terms

Under the terms of a memorandum of understanding governing the deal, the FAI has committed to an expanded corporate governance reform programme, enhanced oversight of the organisation’s pay arrangements, and new limits on the salary of the chief executive of the organisation.

Half of the 12-person board including the chairman will be independent following rule changes mandated under the package.

While the Government’s contribution to the package is clear, the measures taken by the other parties to the negotiation – Bank of Ireland and Uefa – were not disclosed.

Bank of Ireland’s chief executive of corporate banking Tom Hayes would not be drawn on concessions made by the bank, saying only that “we have put the finances on a sustainable footing”.

The new FAI interim chief executive, Gary Owens, said “everybody has taken a bit of pain”.

Mr Owens said the new funding package reduced the likelihood of significant levels of redundancy at the association. “I’m around long enough not to say there will never be any redundancies, but I’m much more confident today than I was last week,” he said yesterday.

This was echoed by FAI chairman Roy Barrett, who said management will be focusing on restructuring the organisation “and hopefully that will involve most or all of the staff being on that journey”.