FAI and St Patrick’s Athletic in war of words over rejected grant
Club makes strong statement saying ‘general manager behaved absolutely appropriately’
Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
It seems the gloves are off in the war of words between St Patrick’s Athletic and the Football Association of Ireland after both organisations released statements on Saturday surrounding the club’s decision to reject an offer to apply for a strategic planning grant.
Such is the apparent animosity between the parties that the matter of the €5,000 grant has become a mere sideshow to an overall disagreement at the governing body’s management of the domestic league.
What makes the deterioration in the relationship all the more intriguing is that Garrett Kelleher, owner of St Patrick’s Athletic, had been previously supportive of FAI chief executive John Delaney by assisting him broker a debt writedown deal for the association in 2014 and defending the secretive €5 million payment received from former Fifa President Sepp Blatter which came to light a year later.
On this particular issue which brought tensions to a head, the FAI claim Saints general manager Frank Kinsella was an integral part of talks on behalf of the Premier Clubs Association (PCA) that led to the announcement of a €100,000 funding package for the 20 clubs on the day of the FAI annual general meeting on July 30th.
“At no point did Frank Kinsella speak on behalf of himself or his club to voice concerns or otherwise with the funding grant,” says Fran Gavin, the FAI’s director of competitions.
“Nor did he declare that he didn’t want to be part of this latest development in what is an ongoing process.”
The St Pat’s board, however, insist their delegate was deployed to report back on the meeting, one also attended by barrister Michael Cush representing the PCA. From this point, the club board – led by Kelleher – completely rejected the offer on Friday, as had Derry City the previous day.
“Our general manager behaved absolutely appropriately,” read the club’s latest statement which went on to fire a scud at the FAI’s own controversial corporate governance structures. “If the FAI considers a process where an executive brings proposals to his board for discussion and decision as “extraordinary”, then that is a reflection on the way in which the FAI conducts its business, not on St Patrick’s Athletic.
“What prevails with the FAI is an approach whereby it decides everything and dictates policy with the occasional public relations flurry to try create a public image that its senior executives are committed to change and to improvement.
“Our game is in crisis. That is why the clubs established the PCA so that the Premier League clubs would consider their responsibilities and attempt to engage with the governing body with a view to effecting change. Ten months since we brought these issues forward nothing material has happened.”