Blow for FAI as Foley backs out of Interim CEO role at last minute

Blow for FAI as Foley backs out of Interim CEO role at last minute
John Foley. Picture: Sportsfile

The crisis-hit Football Association of Ireland was dealt another blow after the man lined up to assume the role of Interim CEO backed out at the last minute.

John Foley, a former CEO of Athletics Ireland, was due to take over at the FAI today, but has turned down the post, indicating he felt he did not have enough support among key stakeholders to succeed in the role.

The board of the FAI is now to meet to consider how to fill the vacancy, which has arisen after the end of Noel Mooney’s secondment from UEFA.

Mr Mooney had assumed the role in the wake of controversies that have plagued the FAI since March.

However this temporary arrangement came to an end at the weekend and Mr Mooney had previously categorically ruled himself out of seeking the role on a permanent basis.

In a statement, the board of the FAI said it “notes with great regret John Foley’s decision not to accept the role of Interim CEO”.

“Throughout our dealings with John, his suitability for the role was beyond question and the level of professionalism and clarity he could bring to the Association would have been invaluable.

“John’s experience and influence will be especially missed by our staff who would have benefited greatly from his arrival,” it said.

In a statement to RTÉ, Mr Foley said he did not feel he had the necessary support required to deliver the change the association needs.

"I was approached by the FAI and was pleased to consider bringing my experience in business and sport to the association for a short period as Interim CEO while a permanent CEO is being recruited,” Mr Foley said.

"I had a number of meetings and discussions with FAI representatives over the past number of weeks and was happy to help the organisation face the challenges ahead.

I believe there will be a need for leadership particularly for the staff in what will be a challenging time for all.

"The most critical issues for the association over the coming months will be strong leadership, organisational change and financial stability.

"I also know that the FAI has a wide range of key stakeholders who contribute to the running of the game and the financial well-being of the association and that the full support of these stakeholders is vital."

He said ultimately, it was not clear that the support for his appointment across key stakeholders "was at the level required for me to succeed on delivering on the huge challenges to be faced by the association in the coming months".

"Therefore I have decided not to take up the role of Interim CEO," he said. "I wish the staff, board, volunteers and players at all levels every best wish for the future."

Mr Foley had previously served on the FAI’s National League Executive Committee, having been first appointed in 2007. The NLEC is the governing body for the League of Ireland, and is set for an overhaul as part of proposed reforms.

He had also served a six-month caretaker role with Cycling Ireland which came to an end last April.

Mr Foley's late U-turn is another blow to the FAI, and comes less than a week after a forensic audit of the association was referred to the gardai by Sport Ireland.

Sport Minister Shane Ross has ruled out reinstating State funding to the FAI on foot of the findings of the unpublished audit.

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