FAI general manager appointment ‘very unwise’, Ross says

Minister for Sport says Government ‘sorry’ decision to hire Noel Mooney has been made

Minister for Sport Shane Ross with undisputed lightweight world boxing champion Katie Taylor   at Dublin Airport on Tuesday.  Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins.

Minister for Sport Shane Ross with undisputed lightweight world boxing champion Katie Taylor at Dublin Airport on Tuesday. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins.

 

Minister for Sport Shane Ross has said that it is “very unwise” of the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) to proceed with the appointment of Noel Mooney as its general manager.

Mr Mooney, who has taken the position on a temporary basis, is seen as having been a strong supporter of former chief executive John Delaney, who left the organisation amid controversy over a €100,000 loan he made to it. Concerns have also been raised in recent times about corporate governance and other financial matters at the association.

Mr Ross last week called on the FAI to reconsider the appointment of Mr Mooney, who started work with the organisation this week.

The FAI said Mr Mooney’s appointment was a Uefa decision, but Mr Ross said he had spoken to Uefa President Aleksander Ceferin who he said told him “the FAI had picked Noel Mooney”.

“I don’t believe it’s a suitable or appropriate appointment, and I think it’s very, very unwise of the FAI to have made that appointment,” Mr Ross said on Tuesday.

In a statement issued last week, the FAI said: “The employment of any person by the FAI is a matter for the FAI and the board welcomes the Minister’s acknowledgement of the autonomy of the FAI in this regard.”

‘Inappropriate’

Mr Ross while acknowledging that the appointment was ultimately a matter for the board of the FAI, on Tuesday reiterated his criticisms.

“It’s up to the board, of course it’s up to the board. The Government takes the view that this is an inappropriate appointment. We’re sorry it has been made,” he said.

Mr Ross declined to comment on US president Donald Trump’s visit to Ireland this week. His Cabinet colleague Finian McGrath has said he intends to protest Mr Trump’s visit, but Mr Ross said he will be out of the country.

“I’ll be in Brussels. I have no further comment,” he said.

Mr Ross was speaking at Dublin Airport, where he welcomed home boxer Katie Taylor, who became the undisputed lightweight world boxing champion at the weekend.

Congratulating the Bray woman on her achievement, Mr Ross said she has “become an icon for Irish people here, Irish sports people here, and we are so honoured with what she did on Saturday night”.