Billy Walsh controversy: IABA still silent over coach’s future

Irish Sports Council claim their attempts to resolve impasse have been ignored

Billy Walsh (centre) at the European Games in Baku in June. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Billy Walsh (centre) at the European Games in Baku in June. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

The crisis surrounding the future of Irish boxing head coach Billy Walsh has not been resolved, or ameliorated in any way, since it was first disclosed two weeks ago.

Walsh, who is currently in Poland with members of the Irish team taking part in a multi-nations boxing event, has not signed a new contract with the IABA that would take him up to and beyond the Rio Olympic Games next year.

Walsh, who is the most successful head coach in the history of Ireland’s participation in the Olympic Games, has been offered the role of head of the women’s boxing programme in the USA. The appointment would be seen as one of the most lucrative positions in world boxing.

The 52-year-old had agreed a new contract drawn up by the Irish Sports Council (ISC), which provides funding for Irish boxing. The IABA decided that they would not agree to considering the proposal and have not explained why, despite many requests to do so.

Instead they drew up a watered-down document which was entirely unacceptable to Walsh and which has now thrown his future with the IABA into doubt.

Despite their public urging 11 days ago for the IABA to quickly settle the matter in line with the proposal they tabled to Walsh in August, the ISC have confirmed they have had no contact from the governing body. The IABA issued a brief statement on August 31st saying they were dealing with the issue as a “matter of urgency”, Since that statement nothing has been resolved.

“The situation as it stands is that the IABA has not come back to us since we issued a statement last Friday week regarding the position of Billy Walsh,” said an ISC official on Tuesday.

Resolved

“The Irish Sports Council does not believe that much progress has been made since it issued the statement and the Irish Sports Council’s position remains the same, which is that it is a matter of urgency for the issue to be resolved. Also, we think the proposal tabled in August still provides the basis of a successful outcome.”

The ISC originally initiated discussions with Walsh, who has remained silent on the issue, when it was known he had other job offers.

The resolution of that was to be brought to the board of the IABA on August 25th. On that day the ISC was informed that the proposal would not be presented to the board and that a sub-committee was suggesting a new version that was substantially different to the original.

With the negative publicity aimed at the organisation, the dispute and lack of clarity of what is happening or what outcome the IABA desires, the controversy may become an embarrassment for the Minister for Sport Michael Ring, who has publicly supported Walsh.

There has been no reasoned explanation why the IABA knocked back a State body, the ISC. The IABA have not explained why the proposal was not taken to their board. They have not detailed how they hope to keep Walsh or if they even want to retain him.

Repeated calls to the IABA have not been answered.

Indifference

Few if any other sporting organisations in Ireland have treated the wishes of their funding partners, the Sports Council, with such levels of indifference.

Walsh remains an employee of the IABA but, according to sources who have been in recent contact, he believes that on his return to Ireland his job as head coach will continue to be up in the air.

There is a standoff between the Olympic coach and the governing body.

The belief is that the longer that goes on the greater the chance Walsh will be with the USA, not Ireland, for the 2016 Olympic Games.

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