FAI to let 12 staff go and cut wages


FAI FINANCES:THE FAI yesterday made 12 staff redundant and announced pay cuts for the bulk of remaining employees but there was continuing uncertainty last night regarding the position of technical director Packie Bonner who, other officials insisted, had not left the organisation yesterday.

Bonner’s contract runs out at the end of the year and expectation had been growing around Abbotstown he would depart before then but senior officials denied reports he had left the organisation’s headquarters yesterday with his possessions after saying his goodbyes to colleagues.

The former international goalkeeper, who was appointed to his job seven years ago, could not be contacted for comment last night.

Pat Kelly, a long-time League of Ireland referee who has run the refereeing department of the association in recent years, is one of those told his position is to be phased out.

There had been conflict between Kelly and the association in recent weeks, with the Corkman the subject of a disciplinary case over his decision to appoint Tommy Connolly, a Dubliner, to oversee the FAI Cup final. Ironically, it seems Kelly was being reprimanded for declining to give his son Alan the game. It is believed he was contesting the association’s action against him.

Futsal coordinator Derek O’Neill, meanwhile, was another to be told his job would be gone at the end of the year and while a spokesman for the association maintained last night the job losses are being spread across the organisation, it is believed the technical department, which has grown dramatically in recent years, is the section to be hardest hit, with a number of regional development officers set to depart.

Precisely who will go is not clear, however, as it is claimed two positions will be “created” as a result of the “reorganisation” and those told yesterday their jobs were going have been informed they are entitled to apply for the vacancies.

The mood at a meeting of around 50 staff late yesterday afternoon in Abbotstown was said to be one of “shock”, with other staff told those earning between €30,000 and €40,000 will face a pay cut of 2.5 per cent, while those on more than €40,000 will lose twice that percentage.

In an official FAI statement last night chief executive John Delaney was quoted as saying: “The sustained deterioration in the economic climate has, in common with other organisations, raised challenges for us as an association. Although we have already achieved significant cost savings in overheads and put in place numerous strong sponsorship agreements in 2010, we now have to implement further measures.

“While no one wants to see any staff leaving the organisation or salary reductions, we need to continue to operate within a prudent business plan which will ensure that the improvements achieved for Irish football in recent years can be maintained.”

The association has indeed announced significant revenue generating deals over the last year but none have come close to making up the yawning gap between the money they expected to take in following the redevelopment of Lansdowne Road and the disappointing attendances and discounted seats.

The failure of the 10-year ticket scheme intended to pay off the association’s share of the redevelopment costs has left the association with debts commonly believed to exceed €50 million. The €1 million the association says it will make annually from the four-club tournament announced last week is less than the difference between the actual gate receipts for the friendly against Norway two days after that announcement and the take on a full house, even if all 50,000 seats were sold at non premium seat prices.

On the day of the four-year Government plan that will doubtless prompt quite a few other foreign forays in search of work, meanwhile, PFAI general secretary Stephen McGuinness has expressed disappointment over the “negativity” of some league managers towards the union- backed tournament after Christmas in Oslo where unemployed players will get the chance to impress potential employers from across Europe.

In the wake of former Shelbourne, St Patrick’s Athletic and Shamrock Rovers striker Liam Kelly, who manages Leinster League side Glebe North, being named manager of the Irish squad for the one-day, four-team competition McGuinness says he received phone calls from a number of managers annoyed that players they had been talking to about deals for next year have indicated they would prefer to try their luck in Norway before committing to any deal here.

“I said to them, it’s natural lads want to take any chance they might have to stay in full-time football, what you’re offering won’t involve the player getting any money until after Oslo anyway so either talk after the tournament or, better still, offer them a deal that involves getting paid now,” he said.

“If they do that I don’t think they’ll have any problems at all getting the players they want.”

The event, which will take place over one day at an indoor arena in Oslo, is being organised by FIFPro, the international union for professional footballers and is modelled on a similar event for winter leagues which has been running for a number of years.

Last season’s event, which was held in the Netherlands, is believed to have resulted in about a third of participating players being offered a contract.