FAI shifts position on debt repayment, abandons 2020 target

Chief executive John Delaney made his speech at the organisation’s AGM today

FAI cheif executive John Delaney addressed the organisation’s 89 delegates at the AGM this afternoon. Photo: James Crombie/INPHO

FAI cheif executive John Delaney addressed the organisation’s 89 delegates at the AGM this afternoon. Photo: James Crombie/INPHO

 

The FAI appears to have abandoned its target of being debt free by 2020 with senior figures at the organisation’s Annual general Meeting in Sligo suggesting that the association now merely hopes to “significantly”reduce the scale of its €51 million borrowings over the course of the next five years.

No mention of the 2020 date, which started out as a commitment a few years ago before softening at the last two AGMs into more of an option, was made by FAI chief executive John Delaney or the organisation’s Director of Finance Eamon Breen other than in relation to what is essentially a five year plan of general debt reduction.

Both men insisted that the association is in a strong financial position although Breen told delegates that it had paid some €5.5 million last year to keep total borrowings at the €51 million figure.

Delaney, who said that that total will be reduced over the course of this year by €2 million, again sought to emphasise the importance of the “€12.5 million write-down” (the figure in the accounts is actually €11.7 million) negotiated with Corporate Capital Trust, the American firm that effectively took over the association’s mortgage on the Aviva stadium when, at the end of 2013, as Danske was exiting the market.

The interest rate on this deal has never been confirmed but the high cost to the association was repeatedly hinted at as Delaney and Breen referred to the importance of the organisation’s ability to return to “mainstream banking” over the coming 12 months.

There was little acknowledgement in Delaney’s speech of the various controversies in which he has been embroiled over the past year but in relation to the €5 million payment from Fifa, he said he stood by his actions; claiming: “It was good business for the association....I wish I had got more.”

Honorary Treasurer Eddie Murray, meanwhile, said that the association would not be bearing any of the cost of reprinting the programmes for the Scotland game. Despite the fact that the original print run had been pulped due to a decision taken by the association to change the text of Delaney’sarticle so as to delete references to openness and transparency at Fifa, Murray suggested that the cost would be absorbed in full by the printers.

“The association did not bear any additional costs directly as a result of this matter,” he said. “We’ve an excellent, long-standing relationship with our publisher and there was no additional cost for the re-printing of this programme.”

Towards the end of the meeting, the association’s High Performance Director, Ruud Dokter, said in a presentation that the first stages of the Player development Programme are now being implemented with small sided games for children having taken place in Mayo over the weekend. “It is,” he said, “an exciting time for the development of football in Ireland.” And Declan Conroy said that his report into the future of the SSE Airtricity League should be delivered in mid-August.

There were no questions on any matter from the 89 delegates and Delaney delcined to take questions from the media afterwards.

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