Shels chairman Andrew Doyle hits out at ‘appalling’ FAI governance

Reds chairman has quit his role at the association, outling six ‘serious issues’

Shelbourne chairman Andrew Doyle has hit out at the governance of the FAI. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Shelbourne chairman Andrew Doyle has hit out at the governance of the FAI. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

The FAI have refused to comment on a string of governance concerns raised by Shelbourne Chairman Andrew Doyle in his letter of resignation from the association’s Senior Council and finance committee.

Doyle, a corporate governance lawyer, quit in frustration at his failure to obtain satisfactory insight and clarification into queries he raised both in writing and during last Friday’s emergency meeting of council at the Red Cow Hotel.

Citing what he deems as “appalling” governance this year, the League of Ireland club owner breaks down the litany of complaints in his email to FAI chairman Roy Barrett into what he believes are six “serious issues”.

They are, namely: unauthorised borrowings, failure to convene a critical committee, failure to provide information to the finance committee, breach of independent chairman’s duties, failure to address complaints and, finally, the blocking of an independent majority on the nominations committee.

“I had hoped – indeed expected – that this year’s ‘new dawn’ would be bright and characterised by good governance at the very least,” Doyle told Barrett an email seen by The Irish Times.

“As I said to you during last Friday’s Council meeting, and again in our conversation afterwards, this board’s performance on governance – in a little over six months – has been appalling. The most galling thing is that it has been entirely avoidable. You could have done it differently, yet, despite warnings, you did not.”

Barrett’s arrival in January as the FAI’s first-ever chairman, along with two other independent directors, was a cornerstone of reforms agreed to by members just over 12 months ago in the form of the Governance Review Group (GRG) report.

External expertise

The folly of John Delaney and his old board ignoring a recommendation from the 2002 Genesis Report to introduce external expertise was there for all to see during last year’s crisis but much of the ongoing rancour relates to the lengths control is being ceded to forces from outside of football.

Barrett’s role in facilitating that changeover within the terms of the state bailout deal remains the most divisive issue at boardroom level and Doyle is firmly with the elected members from the football community in highlighting perceived deficiencies in the approach adopted by the Goodbody Stockbrokers MD.

It appears the reasons he supplied at Friday’s summit for not sharing the contentious draft MoU with fellow directors – that he didn’t have their email addresses and mightn’t have noticed the incoming mail from department of sport chief Ken Spratt the night before – haven’t been universally accepted. Barrett also didn’t acknowledge or reply to warnings raised by four directors on the morning he met former Minister for Sport Shane Ross to finalise the agreement.

“It is perfectly clear that by your failure to consult and engage with your board colleagues on specific concerns raised by them in advance regarding the Sport Ireland/State MOU, before marching off to sign it, was a breach of your duties as independent chairman,” added Doyle, quoting FAI rules requiring the chairman to “ensure adequate time is available for discussing strategic issues” at board level.

Like the GRG independent director proposal, installation of council members on business committees was designed to improve oversight in contrast to the previous light-touch era.

Doyle’s election by his peers on Council to the finance committee last October began that process but his resignation, following that of PWC partner Seán Brodie from the audit risk and compliance committee in May, came as they still awaited the first gathering.

“I’m not entirely sure it is possible to resign from a committee which does not yet exist, but I do so in any event,” said Doyle. “Yet you have entirely failed, despite numerous formal complaints, to convene it (the committee).

“Your stated excuse, that you haven’t got round yet (due to pressure of work) to review the Terms of Reference is, as I said at the Council meeting, patently ridiculous.”

Meanwhile, the FAI is expected to defend a High Court case lodged by Ciaran Murray over his departure. His 24-year continuous spell as the international team’s senior physiotherapist was recently ended by new manager Stephen Kenny, who promoted Kevin Mulholland to the role from the under-21s.

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