The accounts to be published in a few weeks by the FAI will "shock" people, according to the association's vice-president, Paul Cooke, who confirmed on Friday that they will, among many other things, include the cost of a settlement with the Revenue Commissioners, who have been conducting an audit of the organisation in recent weeks.
Cooke, a chartered accountant who was initially co-opted back in May onto a sub-committee whose role it was to assess the scale of the financial crisis at the association, was briefing the media along with FAI president Donal Conway and general manager Noel Mooney after a council meeting at which a number of appointments to key committees were made. The numbers, he said, with more than a touch of gallows humour to his tone, would "not be pretty".
The accounts in question, for 2018, will be circulated to clubs and affiliates in a few weeks’ time, with the reconvened agm to follow 21 days later, most likely in early December.
The report, by auditors KOSI, commissioned by Sport Ireland to be a forensic examination of the association's recent financial governance, is now expected to be delivered around the middle of next month, with the FAI's own report, carried out by Mazars, to follow a couple of weeks later.
It is understood that the Revenue Commissioners made contact with the FAI in the last six weeks to notify it of their intention to carry out the audit. The association subsequently made a prompted disclosure relating to two years of accounts, followed by an unprompted disclosure relating to another two years.
The issues in question relate to both VAT and PAYE; “a number of tax issues,” said Cooke, who declined to say whether any are linked to former chief executive John Delaney’s expenses or other benefits. Talks, he said, are continuing with regard to the association’s final liability.
“It will be in the accounts. We are waiting for them [Revenue] to accept or contradict our figures, but we will be putting a number in the accounts whether they have accepted it or not.”
Asked if the association had co-operated with the audit, Cooke laughed. “Oh, fully!” he said. “We have co-operated with everyone.”
The severance with John Delaney was, certainly in my view, in the best interests of the association
Another figure likely to be revealed in the accounts is the cost to the association of parting company with its former chief executive. Cooke said that the organisation is in the process of finalising with its auditors what its responsibilities are in relation to disclosure on the matter, but it does seem that the numbers involved, which are believed to be in the region of €500,000, will come out.
In the relation to the timing of that deal, which was struck in the run-up to all of these reports being published and all of the new directors being appointed, Conway said only that "we felt that the link with John Delaney was harming the association, so what was in the best interests of the association? The severance with John was, certainly in my view, in the best interests of the association."
Cooke suggested that the timing was influenced by Delaney’s willingness to do a deal, and both men seemed to play down the importance of the looming reports. Conway, however, acknowledged that they will do further damage to the organisation.
“I think there are some tough days ahead of us, would be my view,” he said. “The reports, okay, they will be retrospective in the main, and we might be trying to be more forward-looking now. But I still think the reports and managing the output of the reports will be difficult days.”
For Mooney, it seems, those days are nearly over, with the Limerickman confirming that he expects to return to Uefa on December 1st. Conway said that the newly beefed-up board of 12 including the soon-to-be-appointed independent members, would make a decision on his replacement, although Cooke did not seem to firmly rule himself out of the role on an interim basis.
Conway, meanwhile, made it pretty clear that he does not see himself going anywhere before next July, despite Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross having repeatedly expressed a preference for him to depart.
“The Government saying simply that the restoration of funding depends on the presence or not of Donal Conway or Noel Mooney, is not the way I see it,” he insisted.
Ultimately, he said, however, he would fall on his sword it he had to. “Of course, if it’s, you know, ‘We are now about to resume funding, you have taken all the following steps in governance, but there’s still one thing there that’s an obstruction.’ If that’s Donal Conway then Donal Conway removes that obstruction.”
In the meantime, some significant appointments were made to committees. Conway himself will be joined by former Olympian Olive Loughnane, fellow board member Richard Shakespeare, former trade unionist Peter McLoone and Christina Kenny, who has been put forward by the recruitment firm Amrop, on the critically important nominations committee. Sport Ireland's nomination to the committee of McLoone, who regularly did consultancy work for the association when Delaney was in charge, will cause some surprise.
Larry Bass, the television production executive and chairman of Cabinteely FC, has been elected to the finance committee along with corporate lawyer and Shelbourne owner Andrew Doyle. Noel Daly and Sean Brody (a partner at PwC after many years in Revenue) join the audit risk and compliance committee while another two prominent League of Ireland figures, Daniel Lambert of Bohemians and Derry City's Kevin McDaid, will be members of the commercial committee.