The beleaguered Football Association of Ireland (FAI) has failed to keep proper accounts, according to its auditors, who have reported the allegation to the body responsible for company law enforcement.
Word that auditors Deloitte has reported the FAI to the Companies Registration Office (CRO) for breaking company law emerged just hours before Sports Minister Shane Ross and officials from Sport Ireland appeared before yesterday’s Oireachtas Sport Committee meeting on the ongoing controversies surrounding the FAI.
Deloitte filed the notice — called a H4 form — to the CRO last Friday, in which it alleged that, in its opinion, the FAI were in contravention of section 281 and section 282 of the Companies Act 2014.
Section 281 of the act requires that “a company shall keep or cause to be kept adequate accounting records”, while Section 282 outlines the basic requirements for accounting records.
The development is the latest blow to the FAI in the past month since The Sunday Times reported that former CEO John Delaney had given the association a “bridging loan” of €100,000 in April 2017.
FAI president Donal Conway last week confirmed that Deloitte was not made aware of the loan from Mr Delaney, following a question from Oireachtas committee member and Fine Gael TD Noel Rock.
Speaking yesterday after the word of Deloitte’s report to the CRO was made public, Mr Rock said he understands that the matter is the subject of an investigation from the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE), and the issue is something he has written to the ODCE about.
“Any breach of the Companies Act 2014 is a serious offence, with breaches potentially carrying a punishment of fines or even imprisonment as it is a category 1 or category 2 offence and underlines how serious this issue is,” Mr Rock said.
“For context, in the last 12 months, only two such forms have been filed with the CRO. This is the third.”
Sport Ireland president John Treacy told yesterday’s committee that, on Monday night, the FAI agreed that a full audit of the association will be carried out.
This audit will be as broad and extensive as necessary, including internal financial controls, management and general governance ... all at a sufficient standard to restore funding
He said Sport Ireland can not say when it would lift its suspension of funding to the FAI.
“There are steps that can be taken by a board, we have all indications from their previous audits that the money was expended for the purposes for which it was given,” Mr Treacy said.
“If there are some assurances — and that’s a big ‘if’ — we do have a mechanism where we can fund on a monthly basis.”
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said there needs to be an investigation into the organisation’s financial affairs.
Speaking in the Dáil, he said the Government shared the concerns of taxpayers and football supporters about how the FAI had been run.
“Investigations are necessary — investigations by Sport Ireland — into the accounts and finances of FAI and it also may be necessary for the ODCE to carry out investigations under company law,” said Mr Varadkar.
“The objective must be to restore confidence in how the FAI is being run.”