FAI rescue package: Both sides get what they wanted
Deal concessions will anger significant elements of game’s old guard administrators
No sector of the game will suffer, it is said, while some, such as women’s football and the League of Ireland, are to receive substantially increased funding. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Barely a month after the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) went to the Government seeking a package of cash or guarantees worth the €18 million its leadership believed it required to start the process of recovery, the organisation is understood to have secured supports from its three key stakeholders worth almost twice that amount.
The upshot is that those who emerged from a meeting at the Department of Sport in Leeson Lane with Minister for Sport Shane Ross yesterday believe that, far from having to make a third of its workforce redundant, the possibility of which had been mooted in some quarters, the restructuring required by the FAI will be far more modest.
No sector of the game will suffer, it is said, while some, such as women’s football and the League of Ireland, are to receive substantially increased funding.
It is less than six months since then FAI president Donal Conway was battling what he regarded as political interference in the association’s internal affairs, using conveniently at times letters of concern from Fifa and Uefa.
Both warned against any erosion of their affiliate’s independence.
It would be interesting to hear how Denis Lasari, Uefa’s man in the room at the Department of Sport yesterday, or anybody at Fifa, could square that with the deal signed by Ross and FAI chairman Roy Barrett.
The association is a rather different one now, though, and in return for the €19.2 million it is to receive in State loans and new public funding, it has agreed to accelerate its transformation.
Rules Over the coming months, rules are to be introduced that will prohibit former board members from participating in significant committees and an additional two directorships will go to outsiders rather than representatives of the organisation’s various leagues and affiliates, bringing the balance to six and six.
Those aiming to stand for election from within the game will essentially have to be approved by an “assessment panel” on which outsiders will exert considerable influence.
These changes go well beyond what was recommended last summer by the Governance Review Group, as do the changes that will mean independent directors will essentially run the remuneration committee, all existing salaries will be reviewed and the chief executive’s pay will be tied to that of the Civil Service’s secretary general grade.
That is currently between €196,000 and €207,000 so prospective candidates need not worry about putting food on the table. That said, it is still less than half what former chief executive John Delaney was taking out of the association each year. These concessions will inevitably cause anger among significant elements of the game’s old guard volunteer administrators.
The fact they were agreed by a delegation, not one of whom was even formally involved with the association at the start of this month, might well be contentious too but the money will be very hard to argue with.
Both sides have got what they wanted out of this deal. Just don’t call it a bailout.