The embattled FAI have been hit by yet another blow with the news that Three Ireland will not be renewing their flagship sponsorship next year, a deal which the company says has seen it invest €30 million in Irish football over the past ten years.
FAI HQ at Abbotstown yesterday afternoon, the rain teeming down outside and, inside, a mood not a whole lot brighter than the weather, as president Donal Conway, vice president Paul Cooke, and general manager Noel Mooney sat around a table with a group of football journalists, further teasing out matters aired at an earlier press conference which had followed a meeting of the newly-convened national council.
It will be an FAI AGM with more than one difference in Trim today as at least six and possibly seven new faces are elected to the board, no accounts are presented to delegates and, in a flesh and blood illustration that the crisis in Abbotstown is not just a local affair, representatives from both Fifa and Uefa will be on hand to keep an eye on proceedings.
Against the backdrop of suspended Government funding and intense criticism from Sport Minister Shane Ross, FAI president Donal Conway has made clear the weight the organisation attaches to the views of football’s governing bodies by describing Uefa as “the absolute key relationship” for the association.
The chair of the group tasked with a Governance Review of the FAI, has said its recommendations are not “an a la carte menu” and must all be collectively accepted or rejected by the association’s members.
FAI president Donal Conway has rowed back on initial claims that the association doesn’t have a contingency plan should the 78 recommendations put forward by the Sport Ireland/FAI Governance Review Group fail to pass at Saturday’s EGM.
Sport Ireland CEO John Treacy has laid bare the perilous financial state of the FAI with a series of troubling revelations, the most stark of which is that they are currently in discussions with Uefa about a bailout package that would ensure they can operate for the next 12 months.
The organisation responsible for the development of sport in Ireland said it cannot give assurances that the FAI is solvent, and that it would expect football’s international governing bodies to “bail out” the association if it were to go into liquidation.