Just a month after Ireland’s last game of Euro 2012, Giovanni Trapattoni will name his squad for next month’s friendly against Serbia, a game that will be televised on Setanta Ireland. The extent of the changes to personnel, if any, is going to be interesting.
Judging from the scenes around Donegal this week, however, not too much has changed around the Irish team. Some of the images of celebration from the FAI’s ‘Festival of Football’ in the county have been reminiscent of those in Poznan and Gdansk, if on a much lower scale.
To be fair to FAI chief executive John Delaney, he insists the point of such weeks is to bring the association closer to its clubs and members.
Ultimately, though, all of that must be placed in the context of the organisation’s continued ability to make the sport progress in this country — and it is that which will be up for discussion at the AGM in Letterkenny tomorrow.
One of the principal talking points will be the FAI’s accounts, which are due to be officially presented at the meeting. Most notably, Delaney’s controversial salary is down 7.2% from 2010 to €400,000. That pay cut, however, is still less than the average reduction in wages of 13.3% across the organisation, which saw its staff numbers cut from 179 to 173 in 2011.
Despite Delaney refusing to rule out more redundancies in a recent interview with the Sunday Independent, as well as a degree of unsettlement at ground level within the FAI, there is understood to be general satisfaction at board level.
Certainly, after the publication of the figures, the FAI said the numbers “were in line with its budget” while its directors’ report stated “we remain on course to have all of our loans fully repaid by 2020”.
But, after a European Championship in which some of the coaching and technical flaws in Irish football were exposed, it cannot be denied the debts have effected investment in the development of Irish football.
The accounts showed that the FAI cut the grant aid paid to clubs and leagues around Ireland by €377,000.
It will be interesting to see how the FAI elaborate on the future of the game, particularly with the necessary appointment of a new technical director after the departure of Wim Koevermans.
Finally, there is the state of the League of Ireland, with Monaghan United pulling out of the division and Dundalk going very close to the edge.