FAI, Shane Ross and Sport Ireland called to emergency meeting

Ex-president of FAI says association’s liabilities could be ‘close to €80 million’

The Football Association of Ireland, Minister for Sport Shane Ross and Sports Ireland have been invited to an emergency meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport to discuss the crisis enveloping Irish football.

The invitation was issued by the chair of the committee Fergus O’Dowd and the meeting is set for this Wednesday.

The request comes as accounts published by the association on Friday showed the association, which employs 200 staff, has liabilities of €55 million and its auditors, Deloitte, have declined to express the opinion that it is a going concern.

The accounts also show that the former FAI chief executive John Delaney would have been paid almost €3 million during his final three years as an employee, far more than previously thought.

The figures show that in addition to his annual salary of €360,000, Mr Delaney (52) would have been due pension contributions worth €285,714 a year and assorted other benefits, bringing the total value of the package over the period in question to €2.943 million.

On Monday a former president of the FAI described the association’s financial situation as “drastic” and warned their liabilities could be “close to €80million.”

Brendan Menton, who is an economist, also served on a number of Uefa committees. He told RTÉ radio’s Today with Séan O’Rourke Show he was “fearful” of the association’s plans for refinancing the organisation.

Mr Menton said he had examined the accounts in detail over the weekend and believed the liabilities could be closer to €80 million.

He said the FAI needed to involve “all the stakeholders” in a bid to resolve the funding crisis.

“They need to say what their business plan is and get the sponsors, the Government, Fifa and Uefa on board. They don’t have the capacity to do this themselves.”

The FAI’s brand is seriously damaged, he added. There appears to be “a reluctance” and “very little progress” in efforts to resolve the association’s problems. “We are nine months into the crisis, six months on from the Government review.

“The FAI needs to come up with a business plan, they need to put it in the public domain and show they can achieve solvency. What is the timing of this plan? It should have the approval of the new independent chair and directors. It needs Government intervention.”

When asked if the association should change its name and start afresh, Mr Menton said he hoped a new independent board of directors and chairperson could provide leadership and restore the brand as it moves to celebrate its centenary in 2021.

“The clubs are the strength of football. They are not dependent on the FAI. Ninety nine per cent of development is done through community involvement and sports capital grants.

“My advice to clubs is to keep calm and carry on.”

One solution being examined by Minster for Sport Shane Ross to assist grassroots clubs is to find a way to disperse Government funding to them directly, rather than being dispersed by the FAI.