The Football Association of Ireland’s State funding could be cut unless the soccer body fully explains the €100,000 loan from ex-chief executive John Delaney and other financial matters.
Sport Ireland chief executive John Treacy made the veiled threat after what he described as a “bad day for Irish sport”, warning that the last-ditch action is potentially within the power of his group.
Speaking before the FAI’s Dáil showdown with TDs next Wednesday, Mr Treacy said the State’s independent sporting umbrella group is deeply concerned at the FAI’s ongoing failure to clarify what has happened.
Despite stopping short of the step for now, as a “process” needs to take place and withholding money could damage grassroots football, he said the FAI must start explaining what has taken place.
In a detailed five-hour meeting, Mr Treacy:
Raising a letter Sport Ireland had sought from the FAI for a fortnight, but only received hours before the committee meeting, Mr Treacy said he was “extremely disappointed” at the FAI’s ongoing failure to answer questions to his satisfaction.
And, stressing Sport Ireland’s anger, he said it is technically within the group’s remit to withhold funds after a “process” takes place — if the lack of transparency continues.
After telling the committee his group “will be writing to the FAI in the next day or so” to warn the response so far “falls far short” of what is needed, Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy asked Mr Treacy what will happen if questions continue to be ignored.
Mr Treacy responded: “We have given 50% of funding [for this year] already. We have asked for information, and will be asking again tomorrow.
“If we don’t get a response, there is a board meeting on Tuesday and the board will discuss it.
If they are not compliant with the terms and conditions of funding, it will be up to the board on what decisions it can take.
Sport Ireland chairman Kieran Mulvey stressed the group has to go through a “process” before any funding steps may be taken.
Mr Mulvey said he wants the FAI to respond to Sport Ireland with full answers on the financial issues before Sport Ireland’s board meets on Tuesday.
While stressing cutting or withholding funds could damage grassroots football and jobs, Mr Mulvey said he and others would be watching next Wednesday’s Dáil Sports Committee meeting with Mr Delaney and the FAI with interest, adding Sport Ireland has a “fiduciary duty” to ensure taxpayers’ money is spent correctly.
“We have to be reassured, have absolute reassurance, that the money we provide to the FAI is spent for the purposes that it was intended,” Mr Mulvey said, adding that while next Tuesday is “too early” to make any funding calls, the FAI must start providing “comprehensive” answers.
In a statement last night, Fine Gael TD and Sports Committee member Noel Rock said that FAI funding should be frozen until it answers all questions.
“The lack of answers or any clarity from the FAI to Sport Ireland is absolutely disgraceful. As a result, I now believe all state funding to the FAI should cease immediately until full clarity and answers are given. This is a slap in the face to fans.”