Irish American Football Association pays out €40k

IAFA forks out for legal costs in dispute with college game organisers.

Irish American Football Association pays out €40k

By Joe Leogue

The governing body for American football in Ireland says it is looking forward to a “collaborative relationship” with those behind the upcoming college games in Dublin, having spent tens of thousands in legal costs in previous disputes with match organisers.

Last week’s annual general meeting of the Irish American Football Association (IAFA) heard it had spent €40,000 in legal costs since 2012, almost double what the amateur organisation gets in annual governing-body funding from the State.

A five-game college football series will take place in Dublin — the first between US Navy and University of Notre Dame in the Aviva Stadium in August 2020 — but the association said it “does not anticipate spending anywhere close” to the same amount on legal costs.

In 2016, the association initiated arbitration proceedings against the organisers of the college football match between Boston College and Georgia Tech which took place at the Aviva in September of that year.

The row was over legal fees the IAFA said it was owed by the match organisers. There were questions over whether the IAFA — as the governing body for the sport in Ireland — would sanction the game.

Meanwhile, in 2012, the IAFA threatened legal action against the US Navy ahead of its Aviva Stadium clash with Notre Dame. The association claimed Navy had failed to honour the terms of a sanctioning agreement it entered into with the IAFA ahead of the game.

Both issues were resolved, and both games went ahead, but the extent of the legal costs was revealed to IAFA members at last week’s AGM.

“IAFA’s litigation with Navy has long since been formally and finally discontinued,” an IAFA spokesperson said.

“Since the conclusion of those disputes, IAFA has reached out to a number of American Football institutions, including Navy, and made clear that IAFA is very keen to grow the sport of American Football in Ireland, both domestically and using exciting new international opportunities.”

The spokesperson said IAFA’s legal expenditure from 2012 to date on all matters, including but not limited to disputes with the US Navy, amounted to €40,000, and that this was a “gross expenditure figure and does not include monies recovered from or reimbursed by other parties”.

“In terms of the legal fees previously spent on historical actions between IAFA and Navy, these legal fees related to questions arising from the sanctioning of football games,” the spokesperson said.

“IAFA is run exclusively by and for volunteers and does not anticipate spending anywhere close to this much money on legal costs in relation to upcoming college football games played in Ireland.”

Sport Ireland — formerly the Irish Sports Council — has given the association €160,800 in National Governing Bodies Grants from 2012 up to and including 2018. It has received €23,000 in funding per year since 2016.

“Sport Ireland assists recognised National Governing Bodies of Sport to develop sustainable and effective structures to facilitate increased numbers of both participants and volunteers across a wide range of sports,” it said.

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