FAI appoints Roy Barrett as independent chairman

Catherine Guy and Liz Joyce appointed independent directors of football body

The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) has appointed Roy Barrett, one of the country's best-known stockbrokers, as its independent chairman.

The FAI board ratified the appointment of Mr Barrett, who is managing director of Goodbody Stockbrokers, on Wednesday night.

Two independent directors were also appointed, Catherine Guy and Liz Joyce. Ms Guy, formerly a partner at legal firm ByrneWallace, is chief executive of automotive firm Autolease Fleet Management, which trades as Sixt Leasing.

Her parents, Al and Kay Guy, were the doping controllers who took the fateful sample which ultimately ended the career of Michelle De Bruin.

Ms Joyce is director of human resources at the Central Bank of Ireland, previously working with Pioneer Investment. She has also worked as human resources director at the development charity, Concern. A fourth independent director will be appointed in the coming weeks.

The Irish Times reported on Wednesday morning that Mr Barrett was being lined up for the appointment. He has previously supported former Republic of Ireland player Niall Quinn’s ideas for reforming the organisation.

On Wednesday evening, Mr Barrett said there “is a serious job of work to be done to address the very significant failures which have beset the organisation in terms of its governance and its finances. The new board will now deal with this task with urgency, working collaboratively with stakeholders”.

Outgoing FAI president Donal Conway said the appointments were "another milestone in the reform of the FAI".

“This is a significant step for the association as it looks to restore public and government confidence in Irish football.”

Minister for Sport Shane Ross had made the appointment of independent directors a key part of the reform agenda for the FAI.

Liabilities

However, the future of the football body is still far from secure. The association is facing a struggle to survive, with liabilities of €62 million and an immediate need to secure fresh financial support. It must negotiate a refinancing of its debts, as well as securing some form of financial support. The FAI is also facing an investigation from the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement, while a forensic audit of the association has been passed to the Garda.

The association must also address the question of who will occupy executive leadership roles, below board level. Mr Ross has made it clear he wants an independent chief executive to be appointed.

Current executive lead Paul Cooke has been acting as de facto chief executive since early December, but Mr Barrett is thought to favour the chief executive role being filled by his long-time ally Mr Quinn – at least on an interim basis. The former Ireland international is thought to be reluctant to take up the chief executive's position, favouring – for the moment – a voluntary role focusing on reforming and expanding Irish football at grassroots level.

A recruitment process for the role is likely to follow, but before that Mr Ross will meet with Uefa, European football’s governing body, in Dublin next week to discuss the FAI’s future.

Unions have also warned of the near-certainty of job losses at the organisation, with a financial loss of up to €4 million expected for 2019. The liquidation of the company has been examined, raising questions over the immediate future of Irish international sides and the League of Ireland.