FAI invited to appear before PAC over executive pay and use of millions in Covid funding

Invitation comes amid renewed controversy at football governing body over erroneous payments to chief Jonathan Hill

The Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is to invite the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) to appear before it over executive pay and the use of tens of millions of euro it received in Covid funding.

It comes amid renewed controversy at the governing body for football, with the Government withholding €6.8 million in funding until erroneous payments to chief executive Jonathan Hill are addressed fully.

As proceedings at Thursday’s meeting of PAC drew to a close, Fianna Fáil TD for Cork East James O’Connor told the committee that he wanted to raise “an item of deep concern . . . in relation to ongoing financial and regulatory issues in the Football Association of Ireland”.

He outlined the current controversy surrounding Mr Hill’s pay, which was to be capped at the level of a departmental secretary general under a memorandum of understanding governing the terms of a State bailout for the FAI agreed in 2020.


Mr Hill “apologised unreservedly” to FAI staff last week after erroneously receiving more than €20,000 in travel expenses and pay in lieu of holidays. Mr Hill, who lives in London, agreed to repay the amount in full and now covers his own travel expenses for regular commutes to Dublin.

Mr O’Connor said the FAI and Sport Ireland should be invited to come before the PAC, alongside officials from the Department of Sport, and that as part of the analysis, Covid resilience funding should be included in the examination. He told the committee that the Government had provided €33.7 million in Covid grant funding in recent years to the FAI.

He was backed up by his party colleague, Dublin North West TD Paul McAuliffe, who said the use of Covid resilience funding would be of particular interest.

“There is very much a feeling at club level that that funding never filtered down and certainly I would like to explore some of the details as to how the Department ensured that money was distributed, and if the FAI could supply that information at the same meeting it would be important for the confidence that people have in sport.”

Fine Gael’s Colm Burke said that the issues raised were “of serious concern”.

“The department are providing funding but it’s on the basis it would be used effectively and deliver a service to members of the public. I think we need full accountability here.”

PAC chair Brian Stanley said that the Covid resilience fund and the pay of senior staff in the FAI would be examined and the committee would deal with it early in the new year. He said there were a number of issues around the FAI, with the major ones being the CEO’s salary and the Covid resilience fund.

“We want to see what way that fund played out, how it was dispersed, did it get to where it was supposed to get to.” He said the FAI, Sport Ireland and departmental officials would be invited in early in 2024.

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times