The future of the FAI

 

Sir, – After nearly a century of failure culminating in its humongous debt and even bigger hubris it is time to hand the FAI back to the mothership which it left in 1921 – the Irish Football Association (IFA).

The IFA has worked tirelessly to dispel its sectarian demons and develop a footballing culture that encourages participation from all, has completed its own stadium that rocks on an international night in front of a side that is capable of playing attractive football.

Letting the IFA take it back would once again reunite Irish football at international level, could make an all-Ireland league a reality and maybe even claw back football’s position as a sport of choice for young people increasingly turning to rugby, Gaelic games, hockey, cricket and a myriad of other sports already organised on an all-Ireland basis.

Let’s use this failure to show courage and bring Ireland’s football family back together. – Yours, etc,

JOHN FLEMING,

Killiney,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – Since the publication of the 2018 FAI financial statements, much has been reported about the extent of its liabilities. When we thought all the bad news was out in the open, the published balance sheet shows longterm liabilities of €22.5 million, bringing the total liabilities to a staggering €77.5 million, significantly higher than the widely reported €55 million.

The real problem is how renewed trust and credibility can be created now to allow it to re-capitalise and revitalise itself. No one can be expected to throw good money after bad into this particular melting pot.

Investment funding and working capital for a new FAI is vital for the survival of our existing football infrastructure, bringing in new and existing stakeholders involving Government, private enterprise, employees, UEFA, and the broader soccer family throughout Ireland. A new FAI 20/20 vision is required.

One suggestion is to form a holding company properly funded by stakeholders, to take over the business and running operations of the present organisation. The current FAI would, in effect, become redundant, while the employees, the business and net assets would be subsumed under a new legal entity structure. This would help provide our premier soccer body with a fresh start for building leadership, creating hope and public trust, instilling financial credibility and generating commercial opportunities, to allow it thrive to its full potential which has been sadly lacking for many years.

There could be some financial fallout for creditors from this transition, but it would provide benefits and security in the future for Irish soccer. – Yours, etc,

NIALL O’NEILL,

Castleknock,

Dublin 15.

Sir, – Spare a thought for the FAI coaches, development officers and administrative staff on average pay, who have discovered their jobs are in jeopardy just weeks before Christmas. – Yours, etc,

ROBERT CHESTER,

Knocklyon,

Dublin 16.

A chara, – We often, justifiably, poke fun at the GAA, but the GAA club I grew up with, Athy GFC, with its small income and tiny budget, could it is clear to me have given a lesson on governance, transparency, and financial accountability to the FAI. – Yours etc

BRENDAN RYAN,

Montenotte, Cork.

Sir, – Football Association Insolvent. – Yours, etc,

KEVIN DEVITTE,

Westport,

Co Mayo.

Sir, – Roy Keane was right all along. – Yours, etc,

SEAMUS FENNESSY,

Waterford.