FAI job losses ‘almost certain’, senior union figure says

Minister rules out ‘blank cheque’ for football association

Job losses at the FAI appear inevitable following further comments by its management about the association’s perilous financial position at its annual general meeting on Sunday, a senior trade union official has said.

Siptu sector organiser Denis Hynes said there was a growing fear among FAI staff about the security of their positions.

“It is almost certain now there will be job losses,” Mr Hynes said.

His comments follow a note of uncertainty sounded by the FAI's acting chief executive, Paul Cooke, during the agm that it would have sufficient funds to pay its wages bill at the end of January.


Delegates were warned that the association was facing the potential “nuclear option” of liquidation if funding of €18 million was not urgently secured to allow the FAI to implement its survival plan.

Mr Hynes said on Monday that the immediate focus among all stakeholders including the Government and Uefa must be to ensure the survival of the FAI.

“We need to make sure there is an association there in January,” he said.

The Siptu official said staff had been given some level of reassurance about their jobs by FAI management in the weeks before Christmas but that had now changed and there was “a huge air of concern” among workers.

Siptu represents about 90 of the organisation’s 200 staff.

Mr Hynes described the situation in the FAI as “desperate”.

While he welcomed the Government’s commitment to providing funding of €2 million towards the work of 60 FAI development officers, he said it was a short-term measure.

Mr Hynes called for the immediate appointment of new independent directors to the FAI board in order to “restore some sense of accountability”.


Meanwhile, Minister for Health Simon Harris said the Government would stand by Irish soccer but he drew a distinction between such support and standing by bad practices in the FAI.

Mr Harris claimed people had run the governing body of Irish soccer like “a fiefdom” and “a personal club”.

“It is extremely concerning what we saw in the FAI. It stinks. It portrays an arrogance we have seen in lots of other parts of Irish life but I like to think we have left in the past when the Celtic Tiger died a death in our country,” the Minister added.

He said the Government would decide how best to support Irish soccer in the coming weeks after Minister for Sport Shane Ross held talks with various stakeholders.

However, Mr Harris stressed that the Government would need to have confidence in the FAI before any further funding was made available and it would not be writing “a blank cheque”.

The Minister said he was uncertain about what the apology issued by the FAI at its agm on Sunday was for.

“They chose just to apologise and say ‘sorry’. I suppose that is better than not saying sorry but I would like to know what they are sorry for,” Mr Harris said.

A spokesperson for Uefa could not be contacted for comment.


The chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport, Fergus O’Dowd, said he hoped Uefa would take up an invitation to appear before the committee when its delegation is in Dublin on January 14th for talks with Mr Ross.

Mr O’Dowd expressed concern about the “change in tone” coming from the FAI about its finances over the weekend and said the association’s future was “in serious doubt”.

However, the Fine Gael TD said he remained hopeful that the Government and Uefa could agree a deal on the future funding of the organisation.

“There is a balance there to be struck that will guarantee the future of the FAI. We can’t let the national team go down. It would be very damaging to sport and politics,” Mr O’Dowd observed.