‘We didn’t know’ BoI boss put Roy Barrett forward for FAI job – Shane Ross

Former sport minister says FAI chairman has ‘done a good job’ in implementing reforms

FAI chairman Roy Barrett: said suggestion the bank’s recommendation created a conflict of interest was a ‘nonsense’. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

FAI chairman Roy Barrett: said suggestion the bank’s recommendation created a conflict of interest was a ‘nonsense’. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

Former minister for sport Shane Ross has said he did not know FAI chairman Roy Barrett was proposed for the job by the chairman of Bank of Ireland, the organisation’s main lender.

Mr Barrett was appointed as the association’s independent chairman in January, after being identified by Amrop, an independent search firm.

However, it recently emerged that Mr Barrett was recommended for the role to Amrop by Patrick Kennedy, Bank of Ireland’s chairman. Bank of Ireland is owed tens of millions of euro by the FAI, which was saved by a €30 million State-backed bailout earlier this year.

Asked about the recommendation, Mr Ross told The Irish Times: “We didn’t know about it when he was appointed,” adding that Mr Barrett has “done a good job in leading and implementing the reforms we imposed as a condition of funding”.

Mr Barrett, who is the managing director of Goodbody Stockbrokers, has denied that the issue created a conflict of interest for him. On Monday he said it was a “nonsense”.

“It is misleading if people believe that my getting approached by Amrop on the recommendation of a number of people in any way impacted me in my role to try and secure the best funding package for the association,” he said.

Mr Barrett is understood to have told a board meeting of the FAI on Tuesday night that he had no conflict of interest, and that there was nothing further about the matter that would come into the public domain.

Briefing paper

Elsewhere, the Government was told in July that Covid-19 had had a “serious negative effect on the FAI’s overall financial position”. A briefing paper prepared by Sport Ireland for the Department of Sport in July, seen by The Irish Times, states the FAI had “highlighted a funding support requirement of €10.45 million”.

In a section labelled “Covid-19 impact”, it states this was composed of €3.45 million to “return to original business plan position”, €2 million to allow for the resumption of the League of Ireland, and €5 million to “allow settlement with a lender and the related 5 per cent interest rate”.

When asked about the note, and for details on whether money had been requested to repay a lender as part of a Covid-19 support package, Sport Ireland said no application for funding from the FAI had been submitted. It said the document was “for information purposes” and “related to a very cautious, worst-case scenario planning exercise” carried out in May and early June of this year, and that figures quoted were “high-level estimates”.

‘Contingencies’

“The circumstances have changed markedly since May/early June. The estimates quoted contained significant contingencies and buffers as envisaged at the time.

“The document in no way constitutes an application for funding or any sort of confirmation of funding. The estimates in the document are considered completely out of date and obsolete by Sport Ireland.”

Sport Ireland also said the document and estimates “predate the establishment of robust criteria” for the €70 million fund announced by the Government to assist sporting organisations in responding to the pandemic.

The FAI said it had no comment when contacted about the contents of the briefing note, or questions on the process around Mr Barrett’s appointment. Bank of Ireland and Amrop had no comment.