Shane Ross: New FAI appointment welcome but they're not getting a blank cheque

Shane Ross: New FAI appointment welcome but they're not getting a blank cheque

Minister for Sport Shane Ross, has welcomed the appointment of a new independent chairman and independent directors of the FAI, describing it is “a new chapter.”

He told RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland that he hopes their leadership will take the organisation out of “a mess” as they take on the challenge of a €62m debt.

On Wednesday the FAI appointed Roy Barrett as Independent Chairperson, Two independent directors were also appointed, Catherine Guy and Liz Joyce. Ms Guy, formerly a partner at legal firm ByrneWallace, is chief executive of automotive firm Autolease Fleet Management, which trades as Sixt Leasing.

Ms Joyce is director of human resources at the Central Bank of Ireland, previously working with Pioneer Investment. She has also worked as human resources director at the development charity, Concern

“I'm very pleased to welcome Roy Barrett, Catherine Guy and Liz Joyce and to thank them as well for taking on what is going to be an extremely formidable task.

It certainly does seem that at this stage we are going to enter into a new chapter in what has been a disastrous story.

“They are taking on an association with a debt of €60m, they’re taking on a formidable challenge, but we think that their advent, which has been sought for a very long time and which has been resisted by the FAI for a very long time, will mean that those who are creditors and stakeholders will take great encouragement.”

Mr Ross said the government is not going to reward an association for wrong-doing, but it is ready to assist and consider any plans that are being put forward.

Creditors and stakeholders will take great encouragement in the new leadership and look to them as “a beacon of hope,” he said.

The Minister repeated his belief that in its current form the FAI is not fit for government funding and a lot of conditions need to be met before any funding will be forthcoming.

“We want to restore money and encourage projects to get people on the playing field,” he said. But the association has to comply with root and branch reforms first.

Mr Ross also rejected any possibility of giving the FAI emergency funding to bail them out with a blank cheque.

“We have got a new dawn here, a new opportunity. We have got new people who are going to produce a plan.

“Depending on that plan and the conditions in which they will be imposed and implement and who the other stakeholders are, we are prepared to look at anything. We are not going to provide funding unconditionally to anybody.

We've got to see that the League of Ireland is looked after because that’s got to be made a really, really healthy organisation.

“We’ve got to see that on the ground grass roots football, which is the most important part, has got to be looked after and promoted as well, but we’ve got to do it in a healthy financial way.”

Meanwhile, TD Catherine Murphy claims the FAI's case for significant financial support from the government has improved considerably.

It is after the cash-strapped organisation appointed three independent directors to its board last night.

Ms Murphy, of the Oireachtas sports committee, says the FAI's chances of a state bailout have now increased:

"I would have an expectation that the State will have some role in getting football back on track," she said.

"Whether or not that is in the current form of the FAI is another question. Certainly these appointment are incredibly welcome to at least open up that conversation."

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