Shane Ross welcomes proposal for FAI ‘crisis committee’

Olympic Federation of Ireland president says committee would give FAI time to look into situation

Minister for Sport Shane Ross has welcomed a proposal for a "crisis committee" at the Football Association of Ireland.

The concept was proposed on Friday by Sarah Keane, the president of the Olympic Federation of Ireland. There is increasing speculation that Ms Keane may be interested in a role assisting the FAI during its current difficulties.

Speaking on told RTÉ radio's Today with Séan O'Rourke show, Ms Keane said: "I'm not in the inner circle, but what I'm hearing is grim."

Setting up a crisis management committee would give the FAI time to look into the situation, she said. “Boards are strategic entities, it is very challenging.”

The Olympic Federation has undergone a lengthy governance reform process since the scandal over ticketing arrangements engulfed the organisation during the Rio Olympics in 2016.

Ms Keane said the members of the federation’s crisis management committee were people in full-time jobs who were trying to manage the situation.

A spokesman for the Department of Sport said Mr Ross “will consider all constructive proposals for the future of Irish soccer. This suggestion certainly comes into that category”.

Crisis

Ms Keane told RTÉ that she believed she had “some skills to offer which would potentially be of value” to the FAI.

Ms Keane and the Olympic Federation did not respond to questions on Friday asking her to definitively confirm or deny her interest in a role, were one to become available.

The financial and governance crisis at the FAI deepened this week after Mr Ross rejected a request it made for up to €18 million in financial assistance.

Meanwhile, the Schoolboys Football Association of Ireland (SFAI) has defended spending €50,000 on a five-year lease on a corporate box at the Aviva Stadium.

It said the deal was struck a year ago, when the FAI “had well publicised cash-flow problems”.

Around this time, former chief executive John Delaney made a €50,000 donation to the FAI, as part of a wider €650,000 cash call quietly put together to help the organisation's running costs.

“The approach was initiated by the then CEO John Delaney, but before it could be ratified, it was brought to the SFAI executive where it was unanimously approved,” the SFAI said in a statement.

“There were no dissenting voices and the agreement was recorded appropriately in the minutes of the SFAI executive and these minutes distributed to the members of council.”

The SFAI also confirmed that it was nominating Ursula Scully to the board of the FAI, after the resignation of John Earley earlier this month.

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones is a political reporter with The Irish Times

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