FAI look to extend term of current board as divisions deepen over Government deal

Association plan to hold a series of three egms in relation to fractious reform process

The FAI are looking to extend the term of the current board until march of next year. Photograph: Inpho

The FAI are looking to extend the term of the current board until march of next year. Photograph: Inpho

 

As divisions appear to be deepening over the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) agreed by its representatives with the Government in January, the FAI is planning to ask members to extend the term of its current board until the end of March 2021 so that it can complete the increasingly fractious reform process initiated just over a year ago.

Quite how the process will unfold between now and then is very much up in the air but senior association officials informed Uefa last week that it envisages holding a series of three egms between now and April 1st next year. The first will look to almost double the length of time in office of what has always been described as an interim board, the second approving the association’s new constitution and the third electing new directors under the terms of the rewritten rulebook.

The timetable is laid out in a letter from Uefa’s statutory and regulatory expert, Yann Hafner, to the association’s president and vice president, Gerry McAnaney and Paul Cooke, who had just been appointed to the federation’s HatTrick Funding and Stadiums and Security Committees respectively.

In the letter, dated July 7th, Hafner refers to a conversation the previous day in which a hope had been expressed by the Irish side that the formation of a new Government would present an opportunity to renegotiate some terms of the MoU.

The tone is neutral but there are references to previous correspondence from Fifa and Uefa on governance issues and hints at the concerns with respect to the agreement that exist within the association.

These centre on the balance between elected and independently appointed members of the board, with the MoU providing for a six-six split rather than the eight-four set out at present. In the event that the independent chair, currently Roy Barrett, retained a casting vote, the change would mean that ultimate control of the board would be given to outsiders, something there is significant resistance to around the organisation.

The new Minister for Sport and Minister of State, Catherine Martin and Dara Calleary, wrote to the Association the day after the letter from Hafner had been received out in Abbotstown, to say that there would be no renegotiation. It is believed, though, that elected members of the board, which met on Tuesday evening, want a meeting with Government in order to present their case.

In the meantime, James Kelly, a member of FAI Council representing the Leinster FA, believes he has the support required to call an emergency council meeting specifically to discuss the terms of the MoU, which was negotiated without any real input from the elected directors.

Kelly wrote to every member of council on Monday expressing concern that the MoU would open the association to “excessive control by outside interests” and “a complete loss of sovereignty” and asking whether members favoured the immediate calling of an emergency council meeting to consider the issue.

Replies were still coming in, he told The Irish Times on Tuesday, but he expressed confidence that there would comfortably be the numbers required to trigger the holding of the meeting. Whether the third of council members required to defeat the proposed changes would then vote to reject them, in the event that Government maintains its position that any bailout is dependent on them all being implemented, is far less certain.

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