FAI staff want management to give clarity on potential job losses

Sixty employees could be made redundant if Ireland fail to qualify for Euro 2020 finals

The union representing many of the FAI's staff hopes to meet with management at the association over the coming days in order to get some clarity with regard to how the financial crisis in Abbotstown is likely to impact on its members.

There have been rumours that 60 out of 200 staff might be made redundant in the event that the Irish senior team does not qualify for next summer’s European championships, something that would be expected to be worth an initial €5 million net to the organisation.

An association source dismissed the number as being too high, however, while people on the staff side admit they simply have no idea at this stage despite the FAI's president, Donal Conway, and vice president, Paul Cooke (who is also filling in as interim "Executive Lead"), having delivered a couple of briefings in the past week alone.

Those present at the briefing held on Friday afternoon are said to have been angered and upset when it was suggested that there would have to be job losses over the coming months but that no announcements on numbers or timing could yet be made because of the ongoing talks with the association’s bankers regarding a financial restructuring.

There is some hope that that deal could be approved as early as this week, something that would provide far greater clarity for those trying to map out a way forward for the organisation.

There is also real optimism that the four independent directors might come on board before Friday, something that would be regarded as another significant step towards meeting Minister Shane Ross’s list of requirements for the normalisation of relations between the government and Irish football’s governing body.

Clearly unhappy

In the meantime, though, Siptu official Denis Hynes is clearly unhappy about the way, as he sees it, the union and its members have been misled then kept in the dark in relation to developments at the association.

"Last year, the former CEO of the FAI, John Delaney, informed our members that in 24 months the Association would be debt free, which it is now clear could never have been the case," said Hynes in a statement issued on Monday.

"In May 2019, Siptu representatives outlined our concerns to the Board of the FAI concerning the possible insolvency of the organisation if funds from the Government and Sports Ireland were not forthcoming. At that time, the management of the FAI rejected that this was the case and added that it was shocked by the allegation.

“For staff to hear last Friday that the FAI is €55 million in debt came as an extreme shock and caused them great concern. The workers were later made aware that there would be consequences and job losses due to the dire financial situation and mismanagement of funding.”

Hynes welcomed reports that Ross is to restore funding for grassroots football, even if it is it not clear yet just how that might work. The association is hoping that the progress made on the independent directors front will make the use of some third-party funding mechanism unnecessary. The announcement that Conway is to depart over the coming weeks is understood to have made their arrival more likely with reservations said to have been expressed about accepting nominations while he was still there.

Members of the current board will appear before an emergency session of the Joint Oireachtas Committee for Transport, Tourism and Sport on Wednesday afternoon to answer questions from its members although Minister Ross, it seems, will not.

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