John Earley resigns from FAI board with immediate effect

John Earley pictured in 2015. Photo: David Keane.

John Earley, chairman of the Schoolboys Football Association of Ireland (SFAI), has resigned from the board of the FAI.

The 63-year-old was elected to the highest committee within the association back in May 2015 as chairman of the underage committee. He represented the largest affiliate of the FAI at the top table.

Changes are afoot regarding the composition of the board as they’ve come under heavy fire over governance issues in recent months.

It emerged in April that only two of the 10 other board members were made aware by then chief executive John Delaney of a €100,000 loan he gave to his employers in 2017 to alleviate cashflow problems.

Sports minister Shane Ross, through Sport Ireland, established a governance committee to reform the structures of the FAI - a minimum requirement for state funding to be restored.

A draft report by the five-person committee, three of whom were appointed by Sport Ireland, was delivered to the board last Thursday. That report is due to be finalised on Friday.

It is understood they favour a new 12-person board containing just two of the current directors.

At least one third of the group are to be female, the same portion required to be independent.

“With up to 120,000 young players under the umbrella of the SFAI, my role as Chairman is, and has always been, to try and provide them with the best environment to play the game we all love,” said Tipperary native Earley in a letter to FAI President Donal Conway.

However, a combination of recent events during the ongoing governance review, and the failure to address my concerns at board level, has left me with no other option but to resign.

The FAI played a straighter bat in their statement: “The FAI can confirm that John Earley has resigned with immediate effect from the board of the FAI and as Chairman of the underage committee. The Board thanks John for his service and wishes him well with his continued involvement with the SFAI.”

Earley becomes the fourth director to quit the FAI board since March. Delaney was the first to go, briefly sidestepping into the newly-created role of executive vice-president when the crisis over his personal finances deepened.

Honorary Treasurer Eddie Murray walked away following a disastrous performance in front of the Oireachtas committee for sport, transport and tourism. Cody - another veteran, and due to turn 80 this year - also resigned from the position of honorary secretary.

Both posts, currently vacant, are in line to be scrapped in one of the several recommendations made by the governance committee.

Once the full report is published this weekend, the reforms will have to be ratified by a two-thirds majority of members at this year’s AGM, to be held in Trim on July 27.

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