IRFU rules out purchasing FAI interest in Aviva Stadium

Rugby’s governing body has ruled out buying the FAI’s stake in the Aviva Stadium after speculation that such a move could provide a short-term measure to ease the crisis-ridden sporting body’s financial woes.

IRFU rules out purchasing FAI interest in Aviva Stadium

Rugby’s governing body has ruled out buying the FAI’s stake in the Aviva Stadium after speculation that such a move could provide a short-term measure to ease the crisis-ridden sporting body’s financial woes.

The IRFU and FAI have a joint venture called New Stadium DAC which owns and operates the Aviva Stadium, and rugby officials met counterparts from the Department of Transport, Tourism, and Sport to discuss matters relating to the Dublin venue.

With the FAI saddled with liabilities of over €60m, and given Wednesday’s revelation that the footballing body sought an €18m government bailout, the sale of its stake in the Aviva Stadium had been proposed as a means to alleviate its financial crisis.

While it remains to be seen if this stake could be sold to a third party, the IRFU said it will not be stepping in to buy the FAI’s interest in the stadium.

“In light of recent events the IRFU requested a meeting with the Department of Transport, Tourism, and Sport and we met with department officials today to discuss the operations of New Stadium DAC (Aviva Stadium), which is a joint venture of the IRFU and the FAI,” read a statement from the IRFU.

“It was agreed at that meeting that the IRFU will continue to liaise with the Department of Transport, Tourism, and Sport in relation to the ongoing operations of the stadium company.”

The IRFU said its funding is fully committed to an investment programme focused on the development of rugby at all levels.

Politically, focus has moved towards calls for the State to either buy the FAI stake in the stadium or guarantee its debts.

Oireachtas sports committee chair and Fine Gael TD Fergus O’Dowd said the Government cannot allow the FAI to fail, but that new directors are needed in the FAI before the State could buy the FAI’s stake in the stadium.

Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O’Brien said he would support the State buying the interest in the stadium if it was to protect football in Ireland, but said the FAI has “kept its card close to its chest”. He said it is uncertain if such a move would be enough to save the association.

“Everyone has to agree that the FAI cannot be liquidated,” he told Sean O’Rourke on RTE Radio 1.

If we start with that point, then I think we can move forward. There are other options, maybe that need to be looked at.

“But if we all come to the agreement, it cannot be allowed to be liquidated, then the league will be protected, national teams will be protected, and football will be protected.”

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From florist to fraudster, leaving a trail of destruction from North Cork, to Waterford, to Clare, to Wexford and through the midlands ... learn how mistress of re-invention, Catherine O'Brien, scammed her way around rural Ireland.

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