Ross hopes to restore majority of State funding to football at grassroots level

Intermediary to be used by Government to channel funds due of lack of trust in FAI

Shane Ross, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, said he hopes to restore the majority of State funding to football at grassroots level. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Shane Ross, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, said he hopes to restore the majority of State funding to football at grassroots level. Photograph: Dave Meehan

 

An intermediary is to be used by the Government to channel € 2 million of funds to grassroots soccer because of a lack of trust in the Football Association of Ireland (FAI).

Shane Ross, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, said he hopes to restore the majority of State funding to football at grassroots level.

Sport Ireland has said the FAI receives about €2.9 million in State funding annually but this was suspended earlier this year as Irish soccer’s governing body became mired in controversy.

It was revealed last week that the FAI is in €55million of debt and that former chief executive John Delaney received an exit package of € 462,000 when he stood down last September.

Paul Cooke, the FAI executive lead, has said the FAI is solvent and he is confident that new refinancing deals will be reached on the organisation’s €29 million bank debts.

He also predicted that the FAI will break even by 2022 or 2023.

The €2million being channelled by the Government to grassroots soccer would fund the roles of the approximately 60 community development officers nationwide and their associated programmes.

The model currently being used to fund women’s football, administered by consultants BDO, is being used as a template.

‘Victim of misbehaviour’

Mr Ross said the move is being made to ensure that grassroots soccer is not the “victim of the misbehaviour of the FAI at the top”.

“As repeatedly stated, funding to the FAI cannot be restored until they have completed a massive overhaul of their corporate governance and their leadership,” he added.

“However, I am committed to ensuring that players around the country do not suffer.

Earlier this week, I announced an alternative mechanism to ensure funding of €195,000 could be restored to our women’s national team.

We are now at an advanced stage of ensuring over €2 million can be channelled through an intermediary to fund our community-based development officers and their programmes. This will ensure grass root football continues to be supported regardless of our ongoing issues with the FAI.”

The exact mechanism for the funding has not yet been finalised, according to sources.

Liabilities

Overall, the association, which employs 200 staff, has liabilities of €55 million and its auditors, Deloitte, last Friday declined to express the opinion that it is a going concern.

Accounts published by the association last week show that in addition to his annual salary of €360,000, Mr Delaney (52) would have been due pension contributions worth € 285,714 a year and assorted other benefits, bringing the total value of the package over his final three years to €2.943 million.

In a presentation at FAI headquarters, executive Mr Cooke revealed that revised accounts for 2016 and 2017 showed emoluments – or total pay including pension contributions – for Mr Delaney was € 1.945 million, compared with original accounts which showed he was due € 860,000 for the two years. The new accounts show he would have been paid € 997,043 for 2018.