Billy Walsh refutes IABA's ‘unfair portrayal’ of resignation

Former Ireland coach releases statement contradicting claims over contract talks

Billy Walsh at Dublin Airport on Thursday morning as he departed for the United States. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Billy Walsh at Dublin Airport on Thursday morning as he departed for the United States. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

Billy Walsh issued a lengthy statement on Saturday afternoon strongly refuting claims made by the IABA in recent days in relation to negotiations on a new contract for the former head coach of the Ireland boxing team.

The Wexford man flew to Colorado on Thursday morning to take up a new position as head coach to the USA women’s team, bringing an end to a hugely successful period as head of Ireland’s high performance boxing teams.

The IABA finally broke their silence on the issue on Friday through a lengthy statement of their own and a number of interviews involving chief executive Fergal Carruth and chairman Joe Christle on both national radio and television.

Both mentioned details of the negotiations undertaken with Walsh over a proposed new contract, many of which Walsh takes issues with in a near 1,000 word statement.

Walsh also says that this will be his final statement on the matter. The IABA and Sport Ireland, the former Irish Sports Council, will be questioned in front of an Oireachtas committee on Wednesday morning.

Full statement issued on behalf of Billy Walsh

“I have no intention of dragging this issue on any further and I do not intend to issue any further statements after this. However, I feel compelled to issue this statement due to the misinformation that has been peddled in the last couple of days and to clarify my position and to explain in more detail what actually happened in the negotiations. Everyone needs to move on from this situation but I cannot have what I know to be inaccuracies and an unfair portrayal of what has happened in the last eight months to not be corrected.

The IABA has clearly implied that I have left because of money and that a contract was agreed on September 14th. This is simply incorrect. For ultimate clarity, I want it on the record that I did not resign from the IABA because of money. Of course I wanted better financial terms. However, it was the non-financial and practical working terms that were the deciding factor in my decision to resign.

For ultimate clarity again, what happened on September 14th was a meeting in the IMI where a framework of an agreement was discussed and agreed in principle. It was agreed I would resign my permanent position and take up a new role on a fixed term contract. The IABA, as the employer, was due to send me the documentation which reflected our agreement.

The proposed new IABA fixed term contract arrived three days after the IMI meeting. What I received was a severance agreement for stepping down as a permanent employee and a fixed term contract from the IABA. These terms arrived via the IABA solicitor and were clearly termed contract denied subject to contract, which seemed highly unusual to me and my advisors.

I was shocked at the tone and content of the new fixed term contract in that it consistently undermined my role and my authority at every turn.

The new fixed term contract gave me very few legal protections and prevented me from having any contact with the Irish Sport Council (ISC) or the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) for example. These are key stakeholders that I need to deal with on a regular basis due to the nature of my role and the work of the programme. I was prevented from having contact with the ISC or OCI without prior written permission of the CEO. This stipulation also included any contact with the media.

I was given absolutely no autonomy in the new contract and this was clearly aimed to undermine my position and would have made my job extremely difficult to do if not impossible to do.

At this juncture, I was also under significant time pressure to sign or not sign a contract offer with USA Boxing, who had been waiting for months, which I made the IABA aware of.

Instead of rejecting the contract outright and walking away, I went through the proposed fixed term contract with my solicitor (an eminent employment law professional) and a HR professional and identified up to 60 changes that were required to make this a fair and acceptable contract document for me. We submitted these changes through my solicitor to the IABA solicitor on the 21st of September. We clearly outlined our required changes and despite the IABA knowing the immense time pressures I was under and despite two reminders from my solicitor to the IABA solicitor that we were looking for a swift response, no response came from the IABA until October 8th. It seemed they were deliberately dragging this out.

The response that came from the IABA on October 8th through their solicitor was reviewed by my solicitor and HR advisor. They advised me that what they received from the IABA, signalled a clear intention by the IABA to reject all the proposed amendments which I had outlined that I felt were needed for me to do my job to the best of my ability. The IABA had merely agreed to a few stylistic changes and one or two elements of limited substance.

I was further advised that the IABA appeared to be resistant to any change to the contract save that in relation to remuneration and even at that, they appeared to be reneging on what I understood to be the minimum bonus.

The IABA could not have been shocked or surprised that I resigned given their disrespectful response and blatant disregard for my required changes to the proposed contract. What I was offered was unworkable and aimed at forcing me to resign.

After this response from the IABA I didn’t hold out much hope for any further meaningful progress and needed to move my focus entirely to the preparation of the Irish team for the Worlds and the performance of our boxers at the Worlds.

Following much reflection and careful personal consideration it became clear to me that the IABA had simply made an offer on the September 14th on the financial aspects of the deal only because the Minister had placed pressure on them to reach a deal.

It is my view that the IABA deliberately constructed their subsequent proposed contract in a manner that I could not accept and delayed getting it to me to put me under further pressure in my discussions with the USA.

I firmly believe that they had no intention or desire to engage me into the future.

I believe they did not want me to stay.

I was left with no alternative but to resign.

I could not work for someone who clearly did not want me, who was going out of their way to undermine my position and who wanted me to work under terms that were simply unworkable.

It is time to move one but I need to ensure that the accurate series of events are on the record.”

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