Sport Ireland suspends FAI funding

FAI president Donal Conway calls decision ‘unfortunate’ ahead of Oireachtas hearing

FAI president Donal Conway and executive vice-president John Delaney at the   European U17 Championship  draw in Dublin. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

FAI president Donal Conway and executive vice-president John Delaney at the European U17 Championship draw in Dublin. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

Football Association of Ireland president Donal Conway has described Sport Ireland’s suspension of funding to the association as “unfortunate” as the row about the governance of the organisation deepened on Tuesday.

Sport Ireland suspended funding to the FAI on Tuesday afternoon and will only consider reinstating it “once all ongoing reports commissioned by the FAI have been completed and the recommendations adopted.”

The decision was made by Sport Ireland at a meeting on Tuesday, a day before FAI officials, including former chief executive John Delaney, are to face questioning at the Oireachtas Committee for Transport, Tourism and Sport.

Sport Ireland have confirmed that they have paid 50 per cent of this year’s funding to the FAI and that they will continue to offer non-financial assistance and guidance to the association.

Delaney made a €100,000 bridging loan payment to the FAI due to what he said was a “cash flow issue” at the organisation. After details of the loan emerged, the 51-year-old ended his 14-year spell as chief executive in March and moved to a new role in FAI as executive vice-president charged with dealing with Uefa and Fifa.

The committee meeting on Wednesday will seek information on the “historical context to the drawdown of Sport Ireland funding including the timing of the drawdown, any requests for early drawdown, and co-operation between Sport Ireland and the Football Association of Ireland in relation to such requests”, according to a letter sent by the committee last Thursday.

Sport Ireland’s statement reads:

“The Board of Sport Ireland at its meeting today (April 9th) has decided to suspend and withhold future funding to the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) in accordance with Clause 1.1 of Sport Ireland’s Terms and Conditions of Grant Approval.

The decision was taken in light of an acknowledgement by the FAI in its written opening statement to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport tomorrow that in 2017 the FAI did not comply with Clause 4.3 of Sport Ireland’s Terms & Conditions of Grant Approval.

Clause 4.3 specifically relates to ‘Further Reporting’:

“In addition each organisation undertakes to notify Sport Ireland in writing without delay in the event of any material deterioration in its financial position or of any other matter which may jeopardise the organisation’s overall financial viability and/or its ability to comply with its commitments in the Approved Submission, and thereafter to provide Sport Ireland with such information and documentation as Sport Ireland may request in connection with the relevant matter and any steps being taken to rectify it.”

In making the decision to suspend and withhold funding, the Board of Sport Ireland notes that the FAI has already been paid 50% of its 2019 funding to date and some positive steps taken by the FAI in recent days.

This decision will be reviewed by the Board of Sport Ireland as a standing item at each of its future meetings.

The Board of Sport Ireland will consider the reinstatement of funding once all ongoing reports commissioned by the FAI have been completed and the recommendations adopted, and the Board of Sport Ireland is satisfied that all necessary processes and controls are in place to ensure the FAI’s ongoing compliance with the Terms and Conditions of Grant Approval.

Sport Ireland will continue to provide non-financial assistance and guidance to the FAI, which may be helpful in advancing matters.”

FAI president Donal Conway’s statement reads:

“The Board of the Football Association of Ireland notes the decision of Sport Ireland to suspend and withhold the balance of funding due in 2019, as conveyed by letter this afternoon. It is unfortunate that Sport Ireland now feel compelled to take this action in the wake of recent events.

The €2.7million funding Sport Ireland provides annually to the FAI is crucial to the development of an inclusive approach to football in Ireland. As indicated at its meeting with Sport Ireland last Friday and in recent correspondence, the Association is keen to restore trust and confidence and rebuild the relationship with Sport Ireland as soon as possible.

“The Association has committed to take all appropriate steps in this regard. I am fully confident that through the processes now in place, we will be in a position to satisfy Sport Ireland in relation to both governance and financial issues and ensure that the 50% balance of funding due for 2019 is restored at the appropriate time.”

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