FAI board members considering running for re-election

John Treacy confirms no impediment to current members being elected to new set up

It is understood that a number of Football Association of Ireland (FAI) board members are considering running for re-election after they stand down ahead of the next AGM in July.

Given that possibility, Sport Ireland chief executive John Treacy confirmed on Wednesday that there will be no impediment to current members being elected to a new FAI board.

Speaking at the Sport Ireland Anti-Doping 2018 Review, Treacy said Sport Ireland is currently working with several members on a reform agenda but there is nothing to prevent individuals on the board running for election. It is believed that two or three members of the now eight-strong board will put their names forward again.

“That is a possibility, yeah,” said Treacy. “But I think you need to remember the clubs, the leagues, the members that are on the council have a responsibility. We are dealing with a number of board members and they are on what they are saying is a ‘reform agenda’.

“We are supporting them around that. It is the board members who need to lead this and that is who we can work with. The board members of the FAI have responsibility for this. They need to clean it up.”

Olympic strategy

Treacy added that what emerged in the Irish Olympic Federation (formerly the OCI) was the type of leadership the FAI now need. Citing Olympic Federation president Sarah Keane, who was elected in 2017 following the ticketing scandal in Rio and arrest of former OCI president Pat Hickey, Treacy said the FAI now needed to show a similarly robust strategy towards regime change and corporate governance.

In February 2017, Keane secured 29 of the 43 votes on offer at an extraordinary general meeting of the OCI to defeat other presidential candidates. Hickey had previously been president for 28 years. Keane’s closest rival on 12 votes was the outgoing OCI vice president Willie O’Brien, a Hickey loyalist and member of the council for 20 years.

Keane was not new to the Olympic movement in Ireland and had served on the OCI executive board for the previous two years under Hickey. Her election promise was to entirely reform the organisation.

“Sarah was on the board, didn’t resign when the crisis hit but decided to do something about it and I think that’s a great example and great leadership,” said Treacy. “She had an issue in the swimming as well and she led it from the front as chief executive and had the support of a strong board behind her.

“What emerged in the Olympic Federation was real leadership. I think that played a huge role in terms of corporate governance, transparency, integrity, all those pieces are hugely important.

“That’s what needs to emerge, someone to step forward and lead the organisation and a board to step forward to lead the organisation. And that is possible. Without a shadow of a doubt, that is possible.”

Treacy said former chief executive John Delaney is no longer working from the FAI offices in the National Sports Campus in Abbotstown. There remains uncertainty around the future of Delaney, who was last month announced as executive vice president of the FAI, moving from the role of CEO that he had held since 2005.

“I don’t believe he is on the National Sports Campus anymore,” said Treacy of Delaney. “The reform agenda and the corporate governance group are meeting this week and they will get on with it in terms of making recommendations. They will put their reform agenda to the July AGM or sooner.”

Sport Ireland has appointed Aidan Horan, of the Institute of Public Administration, to chair a committee tasked with a review of governance of the FAI. Membership of the group is expected to be announced today.

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson is a sports writer with The Irish Times