Three Ireland issues warning over FAI's corporate governance amid finance controversy

John Delaney.

The FAI’s largest sponsor has issued a warning over the association’s corporate governance amid controversy over its finances.

Three Ireland - whose multi-million euro sponsorship of the Irish football team is due to run out next year - has said it expects the FAI to fully implement all recommendations arising from the two investigations commissioned after it was revealed former CEO John Delaney provided an undeclared ‘bridging loan’ to the association in order to avoid a cash flow issue in April 2017.

Meanwhile, SSE Airtricity, which sponsors the League of Ireland, has said it is monitoring developments and will be speaking with the FAI on issues that have arisen in recent weeks.

Politicians this week aired their frustration at the lack of clarity afforded by the FAI after a number of its officials appeared at a lengthy midweek Oireachtas committee meeting.

The association has said it has commissioned reports on its governance by both Mazars and Grant Thornton.

Ford, another FAI sponsor, has said it is ‘monitoring’ the FAI’s performance as it does with all its partners.

Three Ireland was announced as the national team sponsor in 2010, in a deal worth €7.5m over four years.

It was later announced that an extension to the deal, worth a further €8.9m to the FAI, would see the partnership run until 2020.

“Corporate governance is of utmost importance at Three and we expect the same from all partners we work with.

"We note that the FAI has commissioned two reports to review recent matters and we expect all recommendations to be implemented,” a Three Ireland spokesperson told the Irish Examiner.

The company declined to comment when asked if it has engaged with the FAI specifically on the controversy, or if it will review its relationship with the FAI should the association fail to implement the recommendations arising from the reports.

SSE Airtricity said it will be having discussions with the association.

“As part of normal business activity, we discuss matters with the Football Association of Ireland at regular intervals,” a spokesperson said.

We are monitoring current developments and will discuss these with the association at our next meeting which will be scheduled in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Ford said: “In all of our sponsorship activity, Ford constantly monitors the performance and return that our sponsorship partnerships deliver.

“Our partnership with the FAI is important to us.

"We are particularly proud that our vehicle supply sponsorship is making a significant contribution to grassroots soccer in Ireland through the provision of Ford vehicles to the organisation’s development officers who promote the game in clubs and communities across the country.”

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