State funding to FAI almost €50m over past decade, but little to show for it

Soccer body to be quizzed by Oireachtas on governance, funding and poor performance

Poor performance: Republic of Ireland’s Shane Long with Thomas Delaney and Lasse Schone of Denmark in UEFA league game in October. Photograph: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Poor performance: Republic of Ireland’s Shane Long with Thomas Delaney and Lasse Schone of Denmark in UEFA league game in October. Photograph: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

 

The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) has received almost €50 million from the State over the past decade from four government departments and from Sport Ireland, newly released figures show.

The figures emerged as the soccer’s representative organisation and its affiliate, the League of Ireland, are to go before the Oireachtas committee for transport, tourism and sport.

The FAI will be questioned in January about governance issues, the association’s board membership, and the performance of soccer relative to the level of funding it receives.

The current state of the League of Ireland, its financial difficulties and the lack of national team progress from the league are also expected to be on the agenda.

Figures released last week to Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy show that since 2008 the FAI has received total State funding of €49.448 million.

Ms Murphy said League of Ireland Clubs were not getting enough money through gate receipts and needed to be on a much more secure footing and supported to encourage more eligible players from the domestic league to the national squad.

Ms Murphy said she would like to see some former professional footballers become members of the FAI’s board.

Sport Ireland, the sports promotion agency which distributes State funding to sports organisations in Ireland, has provided €34,971,335 since 2008.

This includes an annual payment for developing the “grassroots of the game”, funding worth €4 million in 2008, down to €2.565 million this year.

John Delaney: “We’ve received strategic plans from 16 of the 20 league clubs and, when we get all those, the next step for the league is really important.” Photograph: Donall Farmer/©INPHO
FAI president John Delaney. File photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

The association also received €2.047 million in the same period for the development of women’s soccer. Other funding included a contribution of just under €500,000 was made over two years towards facilities development in the sport’s “campus master plan” and it got €38,119 in dormant accounts funds last year.

Facilities development

The Department of Sport provided direct funding of €1.694 million for the development of sports facilities, through the sports capital programme. And it gave €7.75 million in capital funding for facilities development, €512,700 this year.

Since it was established in 2012, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs has provided €2.8 million to the FAI for programmes including summer soccer camps, funding for the Big Issue homeless league final, and up to €100,000 each year “to provide a positive working relationship established with key stakeholders in Limerick city regeneration, and regular meetings with stakeholders”.

It also provided funding for community football officers in Dún Laoghaire in south Dublin and Bray in Co Wicklow, and for regional development officers to run programmes in targeted areas.

The Department of Justice has awarded the association €1.137 million to combat racism and encourage integration through soccer programmes.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has contributed €413,000 for Irish players aged 16 and over who have moved to the professional game in the UK and €25,000 for an all-island coaching conference to encourage cross-Border links.