FAI admits breaking State funding rules in relation to €100K Delaney loan

FAI admits breaking State funding rules in relation to €100K Delaney loan

The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) has admitted to breaking the rules for getting State funding by not notifying Sport Ireland of the €100,000 loan from its former CEO John Delaney.

“Certain circumstances arose in April 2017 were not reported to Sport Ireland,” admitted the association, adding that it will work to establish “a process to ensure the FAI are, in future, fully compliant”.

The admission is included in remarks from the FAI president, Donal Conway, which will be made to the Oireachtas sport committee tomorrow.

The FAI has also acknowledged inaccuracies in its initial public response about the controversial payment after it was disclosed last month.

The embattled organisation has been severely criticised by TDs for spreading “more confusion” after it released a statement which said “recent comments made by the FAI did not accurately reflect the Board’s level of awareness of the existence of the €100,000 issue in 2017”.

Fine Gael TD Noel Rock, who has been to the fore of Oireachtas calls for answers, said he is concerned by the statement released by Mr Conway which referred to the initial inaccuracies.

Mr Rock pointed to a statement from the FAI on March 18, which noted that “the board of the FAI has been kept fully informed in relation to this matter at all times”.

“That’s what they said at the time,” said Mr Rock.

However, their statement this evening completely contradicts this. The board needs to be straight with both the committee and the public on this matter.

Ending days of speculation, the FAI confirmed that Mr Delaney will appear as part of its delegation before the Oireachtas sport committee tomorrow.

In documents sent to the committee yesterday afternoon — which were seen by the Irish Examiner — the FAI confirmed its five most senior figures would appear — Mr Delaney, Mr Conway, honorary treasurer Eddie Murray, Páraic Treanor, the chairman of the FAI committee on legal and corporate affairs, and Rea Walshe, the new interim chief executive.

In his 22-page opening address, Mr Conway will also tell TDs that auditors Grant Thornton have been on site at FAI headquarters since last week, conducting a comprehensive review of all books and all ledgers.

Mr Conway will tell the committee that the “involvement of Grant Thornton also allows the addressing of queries raised regarding the €100,000 issue from 2017 to ensure the response to queries is comprehensive and accurate”.

This is in addition to the review underway by consultant Mazars.

The FAI president also concedes that the FAI has a lot of work to do if it is to regain the confidence and trust of Sport Ireland and the public.

The association has been roundly criticised for its response to the controversy, and also its failure to provide adequate information it shared with Sport Ireland and with the all-party Oireachtas committee.

Donal Conway
Donal Conway

In his statement, Mr Conway will insist that “no disrespect was intended to the Committee or Sport Ireland by the Football Association of Ireland’s letter of last week”.

He also will say the FAI board has acknowledged the concerns expressed by Sport Ireland and by committee members last week.

John Treacy, the chief executive of Sport Ireland, would not state when pressed by TDs that he had confidence in Mr Delaney.

The FAI is also engaging with the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement in dealing with its inquiries, Mr Conway will say.

Last month, on the night of Ireland’s first Euro 2020 qualifying match, against Gibraltar, Mr Delaney resigned from his role as CEO, only to take up a new role as executive vice president.

Mr Conway will claim this appointment to the new role, charged with dealing with Uefa and with Fifa, is a positive development.

“In the view of the board, this will be to the benefit of Irish football,” he states.

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