Niall Quinn and Gary Owens reassure FAI staff about future

Interim bosses had 'positive' meeting about association’s finances and prospects for future

The FAI’s interim deputy CEO Niall Quinn. Photograph: Tom Honan for The Irish Times.

The FAI’s interim deputy CEO Niall Quinn. Photograph: Tom Honan for The Irish Times.

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Interim deputy CEO Niall Quinn and interim CEO Gary Owens met with Football Association of Ireland (FAI) staff on Monday to provide some reassurance about the association’s future, with several members of staff describing the meeting as having been “positive”.

There was no detail on the number of job losses that might be expected over the coming months but Owens – who said he expects to be in the job for six months – did tell staff, around three-quarters of whom were present, that he had experience of “restructuring” organisations. Quinn’s tone is said to have been upbeat and there appears to have been a general impression that he will have a positive impact.

One of those present also felt that the general tone suggested that there is confidence that the block on Government funding, normally paid through Sport Ireland, is close to being lifted.

Quinn is part of an FAI delegation which will travel to Switzerland over the coming days in order to tie up the outstanding details of Uefa’s financial support to the association and also, it is reported, to explore how previous funding has been used.

Central pot

There is some concern around Abbotstown that, after years during which significant portions of Uefa funding that was designated for specific areas such as women’s football, youth development or refereeing was diverted into a central pot to keep the association afloat, using all of such funding for the purposes intended now might actually leave a bigger hole when it comes to meeting day-to-day expenses.

Despite that, there was optimism amongst staff members after the address that the situation is stabilising and that the association is getting to a stage where it will be in better shape to cope on the financial front.

Quinn and Owens also met with members of the staff forum, and that too appears to have gone well despite the frustration felt in some quarters that the former Hibernian Insurance and Athletics Ireland chief is the fourth interim chief executive to be dealing with them since last March. The process of making a permanent appointment is only in its very earliest stages.

The domestic competitions committee includes two former board members, it has been confirmed

The current membership of the association’s new committees was also revealed to staff. There may be some relief that Minister for Sport Shane Ross has other things on his mind right now given the presence of a number of figures who were prominent during the John Delaney era.

The domestic competitions committee includes two former board members, it has been confirmed, with both Noel Fitzroy and Jim McConnell among the nine members named so far.

Signatory

John Earley is on the international and high performance committee along with Dennis Cruise who, as secretary of the junior council, was a signatory of a letter in support of Delaney issued at a point when the former chief executive’s position was widely seen as untenable.

The key football management committee, meanwhile, is set to include Frances Smith, who had been chair of the audit committee, a subcommittee of the finance committee, which effectively liaised between the association and its auditors, Deloitte.

Paddy Dempsey, chairman of the Dublin and District Schoolboy League – who was nominated by the schoolboy sector a few weeks ago to fill the vacancy on the board created when Earley resigned for the second time, but who then decided against taking the position, citing other commitments, after his league’s support of Delaney was raised – is also named on the football management committee. There are still vacancies to be filled on all of the committees.

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