Uefa has announced that it is to hand over more than €200 million in funding associated with its “HatTrick” programme to member associations early in order to help them cope with the fallout of the Covid-19 crisis. The FAI will not benefit from the move, however, as it had already secured its funding for this and next year back in 2018.
For many of the 55 members associations across Europe, the €236.5 million announcement by Uefa on Monday will have come as a hugely welcome lifeline. The FAI, though, must remain focused on the prospect of support from Fifa in the coming months with the association here believed to be hoping for anything up to €7.5 million is funding from the game’s world governing body.
Under the terms of Uefa’s HatTrick programme, national governing bodies get around €2 million per annum towards costs in a long list of specified areas.
While almost half, €800,000, is allocated for the general running costs of every association, other smaller, but still substantial amounts are given to support work on particular aspects of the game with €200,000 earmarked for the grassroots game, for instance, €150,000 for women’s football and €50,000 for work to combat match fixing.
To collect the full amount, national associations are normally required to meet certain criteria with regard to many of the constituent payments with, say, a national women’s league, a necessity if the full €150,000 available under that heading is to be handed over. Similarly, the participation of countries in various representative competitions at different levels of the game is supported but the association had to enter teams in order to get the cash.
Of the total, €200,000 per annum is normally also given to reward good governance. It is somewhat ironic then, that the FAI is understood to have received that and the rest of all of the money now being forwarded to other associations back in 2018 because it was so starved for cash and went to Uefa looking for help.
This was, of course, the time when John Delaney was still in charge and claiming publicly that the association could be debt free by 2020. Instead, it is currently grappling with his financial legacy, helped by the substantial bailout it received from Government, its bank and Uefa, but now hindered by a pandemic for which it has already drawn down some of the available supports.
Making the announcement, Uefa president, Aleksander Ceferin, who Delaney once claimed as an ally, revealed that the organisation is waiving the normal conditions associated with the money.
“Our sport is facing an unprecedented challenge brought about by the Covid-19 crisis,” he said. “Uefa wants to help its members to respond in ways that are appropriate to their specific circumstances. As a result, we have agreed that up to €4.3 million per association, paid for the remainder of this season and next, as well as part of the investment funding, can be used as our members see fit to rebuild the football community.”