Conway acknowledges redundancies on the cards at the FAI
President determined to defy Government wishes and stand for re-election to the post
FAI headquarters: There has been talk of redundancies for a couple of months around Abbotstown although estimates of the numbers that might be involved have varied. Photograph: Inpho
FAI president Donal Conway has all but acknowledged that redundancies are to be expected at the association as the organisation tries, he said on Saturday evening, “to build a sustainable financial model”.
Asked about the prospect of people losing their jobs over the coming months Conway said that “it’s not something that is absolutely signed off on yet,” but indicated that he expects talks on funding from Uefa to be concluded over the coming weeks and that the situation would be clarified then.
Conway, who was criticised again on Sunday by Minister for Tourism, Transport and Sport, Shane Ross after confirming that he intends to continue on as president, did not confirm or deny that Uefa will be required to advance something in the region of €15 million to the association. He did say, though, that the goal was to get to the stage where it was no longer drawing down money before it was due.
There has been talk of redundancies for a couple of months around Abbotstown although estimates of the numbers that might be involved have varied fairly wildly.
In total there are currently just over 200 staff but the 40 or so co-funded positions, including the association’s regional development officers, are seen as especially vulnerable because of the loss of the public money that helps to pay their wages. There may also be an attempt to cut administrative positions at the FAI’s head office.
Conway expressed the hope that Government funding might start to be restored before the end of the year.
It is believed, however, that even the association’s portion of the wage bill may be seen as an unsustainable burden at this point and there is talk of an attempt being made to have local authorities partner directly with affiliates in their locality.
The FAI would seek to divert funding from other programmes to the likes of League of Ireland clubs in an attempt to help with some of the costs they would be asked to take on.
The restoration of that public funding seemed less likely after Ross again expressed his disappointment on Sunday over Conway’s determination to allow his nomination for re-election as president to stand.
Relations between the two might actually be about to get worse, indeed, with the SFAI (schoolboys) said to be intent on nominating former director John Earley for re-election to the board this weekend.
With Noel Fitzroy contesting a three way election for vice president, the nomination of Earley would raise the prospect of three of the board Conway said would be departing en masse back in April taking seats on the reconstituted one and contravene the suggestion by the Governance Review Group that “a maximum of two” might stay on for an interim period.
Conway, meanwhile, described the notion that the FAI might try to pay off its stadium-related debt by 2020, a possibility repeatedly raised by John Delaney over the best part of the last decade, as “stupid”.
“We’re in the business of designing a financial model that benefits what the association is trying to deliver,” he said. “Paying the debt on the Aviva Stadium by 2020 would be a stupid part; it’s not a part going forward.”