FAI reforms could already be doomed to failure

Doubts cast on whether reforms will pass at next month's AGM

Dave Moran, chairman of the largest amateur football league in Ireland, believes the FAI governance reforms will not be passed by delegates at next month's annual general meeting.

While the head of the Leinster Senior League welcomes the aspects of the report related to tighter checks and balances, he disagrees with the new structure of the new board.

Specifically, he wants a full clear out of the remaining eight directors and the appointment of Sarah Keane from the Olympic Federation of Ireland to the board.

Moran is of the view that four independent directors, as recommended in the governance review chaired by Aidan Horan, is insufficient.


He would favour Keane and her OFI colleague, former FAI legal director Sarah O’Shea, being appointed to two of six seats assigned to independents. The other six, he contends, should be drawn from new chairpersons of the existing football committees.

I firmly believe that the reforms, in the current format, will be defeated

The legislator is part of the Leinster Football Association, which has 10 votes at the AGM in Trim on July 27th. More importantly, the top 14 clubs in his league are also entitled to a vote.

“I firmly believe that the reforms, in the current format, will be defeated at the AGM,” said Moran.

“The report didn’t go far enough to dismantle the traditional power bases within Irish football. Everything has been too rushed for the AGM and voters will be too scared to back it.”

His pessimism, coming on top of the opposition to the proposals by the powerful faction from the Schoolboys Football Association of Ireland (SFAI), represents a bad start to a push by the FAI to have government funding reinstated.

Donal Conway, the current president, said at Friday's launch of the review that there was no room for manoeuvre on the set of 78 recommendations.

He is relying on the general membership at the AGM to carry the motion by a two-thirds majority.

Of the 208 potential voters, 140 must back the reforms for them to become effective.

As it stands, the 36 votes from the SFAI are in doubt.

Conway will be told on Saturday when he attends the SFAI AGM that only a guarantee of a place on the new board will earn their support. The same 32 leagues control the majority of votes across the 24 schoolgirls’ leagues.

An early calculation suggests the proposals could be doomed before Conway commences his roadshow around the country trying to sell the change agenda.

Moran said that his league would be seeking views from their 138 clubs about the governance report.

They were the first league to conduct a similar exercise in April following the shambolic appearance of FAI board members before the Oireachtas committee for sport, transport and tourism.

Feedback from their clubs indicated they had no confidence in the present board of the FAI.

Moran says that desire should be respected, including the removal of Conway, who has hinted he may seek re-election at the AGM.

“They all have to go,” he said. “With all the investigations ongoing at the FAI, the remaining board members could get dragged into those. Then, we’ll be back into another firestorm.”