Ross urges FAI to appoint independent chief executive

Paul Cooke named ‘executive lead’ by the football organisation on Tuesday

Minister for Sport Shane Ross said stakeholders would ‘continue to be concerned’ until the FAI was ‘led by completely independent people’. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

Minister for Sport Shane Ross has urged the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) to appoint an independent chief executive after the organisation appointed vice-president Paul Cooke as "executive lead".

Mr Ross said stakeholders would “continue to be concerned” until the FAI was “led by completely independent people”, and he reiterated Government funding would not be restored until that happened.

Mr Cooke, a chartered accountant and former newspaper executive, was seen as a long-time rival of former chief executive John Delaney, who left the FAI earlier this year amid controversy over his financial relationship with the organisation. Mr Cooke will not be paid for his role, it is understood.

His appointment comes after John Foley, who had been expected to become interim chief executive, announced on Monday he had decided against the role.


‘Urgent priorities’

Mr Ross said: “The most urgent priorities for the FAI should be the appointment of the four independent directors, the independent chairperson and the filling of the CEO vacancy, whether on an interim or full-time basis”.

“Various stakeholders will continue to be concerned until such time as the board and the executive are led by completely independent people without any prior or present involvement with the FAI.”

An independent chief executive should be appointed “following a thorough process”, adding that “Government funding cannot be restored until such independent directors and an independent CEO are in place”.

Mr Cooke will report to FAI president Donal Conway.

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times