Siptu calls for meeting with Shane Ross over ‘serious concerns’ of FAI staff

‘Morale among staff in the FAI is at an all-time low,’ a statement from the union read

The trade union representing many of the staff at the Football Association of Ireland has called for a meeting with Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross to discuss the announcement that the suspension of public of the organisation is to be maintained for the foreseeable future.

The call comes after the man intended up to take up the role of interim CEO at the association, John Foley, stepped aside when Ross made it clear that he felt his previous connections with the organisation made him an unsuitable candidate to carry out the programme of reform that the government has sought out in Abbotstown.

Foley had been appointed by former chief executive John Delaney as an “independent” member of the National League Executive Committee, essentially the board of the League of Ireland, back in 2007 and had served on the committee despite the widely held view among the clubs that participate in the league that its structure was undemocratic and lacked transparency.

Ross has repeatedly made it clear that he wants all previous links to Delaney’s time in charge to be severed and the positions of current association president Donal Conway and fellow board member John Earley are clearly still a factor with regard to the restoration of the organisation’s €2.7 million in annual funding. More than €1 million remains unpaid for 2019 and there is widespread concern that that money will be lost if the standoff is not resolved before the end of the calendar year.

Foley was to have replaced Noel Mooney, the former association employee who returned to Dublin on secondment from Uefa for six months, a stint that ended when, along with Conway, he represented the FAI at the Euro 2020 draw on Saturday evening.

In a statement issued on Monday, Ross acknowledged Foley’s professional record but suggested that the association needed to find someone for the job who had not previously involved with it.

While consistent with his longstanding position, the last minute timing of the move came as something of a surprise and dealt a blow to the sense towards the end of last weekend that there was a growing political will for a way to be found to restore some or all of football’s funding even if the money was not paid directly to the association.

The extent of the association’s need is set to become apparent on Thursday when it publishes its accounts for 2018 with the figures expected to include a substantial loss for the year in question and provide the first accurate snapshot of current liabilities, a figure that will include the severance payment agreed with Delaney when he left the organisation recently.

Clearly concerned for their positions in the face of so many issues, the association’s staff have called for the Minister to meet with their representatives so as there can be some engagement with regard to their futures and the future of the wider game at community level.

Speaking after a meeting at Abbotstown on Monday, SIPTU Sector Organiser, Denis Hynes, said that he and other officials had “met with our members in the FAI today. At this meeting, serious concerns about the future of the organisation were expressed. These include concern at its future direction following the announcement by the interim CEO, John Foley that he will not be continuing in the role and the continued withholding of funding for the organisation by the Government and Sport Ireland.

“Morale among staff in the FAI is at an all-time low,” he continued, “with media reports of the possibility of up to 100 job losses causing great concern. It is not only the livelihoods of workers which are under threat there but soccer at community level across Ireland.

“Our members have requested that the Minister for Sport, Shane Ross, meets with their representatives urgently to discuss the situation in the FAI and how the current situation can be resolved.”

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