Additional reporting by Joe Leogue
Sports Minister Shane Ross says he believes football stakeholders are on a “pathway” to saving the beleaguered FAI, and that a solution will be forthcoming ‘fairly soon’.
Mr Ross and Junior Minister Brendan Griffin today met with FAI chair Roy Barrett and a four-strong delegation from European football’s governing body UEFA, including General Secretary Theodore Theodoridis, and its Financial Director Josef Koller.
The group met to discuss the spiralling debt at the FAI, which is believed to be in excess of €60m, and ways to save the association from liquidation.
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Ross said all involved are “absolutely determined” that examinership and liquidation should be “off the table”.
However he again ruled out any State bailout.
“We are now, we think, on a pathway to a possible solution to the immediate problems that beset the FAI. We think that the constructive nature of the meeting indicated that all four stakeholders are absolutely united in their determination to do what has to be done for Irish soccer particularly from our point of view for the grassroots,” Mr Ross said.
He said UEFA has shown an enormous amount of goodwill and recognises its role as a stakeholder, and has shown huge commitment to the future of Irish football.
“I'm not going to go into the details of exactly what they said because it's very delicate at the moment but you can take it that everybody sees that they're going to have skin in the game here, and everybody is united in ensuring there is to be a solution to be shared.
“I don't think we're talking about months or weeks. I think we're talking about something happening, fairly soon and getting into a good result in the near future,” he said.
He also said the FAI is going to come forward with a plan to protect the interests of the staff at the association.
Meanwhile, the FAI has declined to reveal how it will finance its part of the Footballing Centre of Excellence in Glanmire, Co Cork. Last week the Government announced a €2m allocation to the project from its Large Scale Sports Infrastructure Fund.
However, the funding is contingent on being matched by funding provided by the FAI. The Irish Examiner asked the FAI how it will match the funding given its perilous finances. However the Association declined to comment.