Sports Minister Shane Ross has accused Donal Conway of reneging on a promise to step down from the FAI at the upcoming Annual General Meeting (AGM after he was nominated unopposed to continue in the role of president of the association.
The minister has written a scathing letter to Conway, demanding he honour his word from a meeting he had with Ross and Minister of State Brendan Griffin at Leinster House on May 22.
The letter calls on Conway to withdraw his nomination in order to “allow for new leadership with credible reform credentials, in the best interests of football.”
Ross insists Conway made it clear he would depart in the wake of the financial scandals that have rocked the FAI, since it became public that former chief executive John Delaney had provided a €100,000 bridging loan to ease cash flow problems in 2017.
While a Sport Ireland/FAI Governance Review Group did recommend one or two of the current board members remain in place to enable a smooth transition of power, Ross was aghast at Conway’s nomination, and also took the opportunity to have a swipe at Noel Mooney, who has been installed as general manager on secondment from Uefa.
“Contrary to this commitment, you have now been effectively re-elected as president of the FAI — you have been, somewhat unexpectedly, unopposed for this position. This was a reversal of your promise to bring reform to the FAI under a new leadership,” wrote Ross.
“Together with your decision to appoint former FAI employee and loyalist Noel Mooney to the post of general manager, this development means that the new regime has a very old look about it.
Given that you were unopposed and the number of qualifying candidates was restricted to 50 existing FAI Council members, all with a minimum of two years’ service, in the circumstances, I believe it would be worth extending the deadline to accept nominations at least until the end of this week and from beyond the ranks of council members.
The minister criticised scathing after learning about some other changes that may be brought in by the FAI. “I understand that the upcoming AGM and EGM will consider a large number of amendments to the association’s rule book, constitution, and articles of association. Included in these is a proposal that the quorum for the FAI board be reduced from six to two. This beggars belief.
“It appears to be an extraordinary proposal which is not included in the Governance Review recommendations.
“It is difficult to understand how a board of 12 could have a quorum of just two members,” he wrote.
“I believe Sport Ireland have sought clarification around this point and I would appreciate it if you would also explain to me why this amendment has been proposed and how it is in line with good governance principles to apply a quorum of just two board members.”
Last night the FAI responded to Ross’s comments with a statement of their own.
“The current board of the FAI will, as indicated previously, stand down at the AGM on July 27th and remains fully committed to governance reform,” it states.
“The report from the independent Governance Review Group, for the FAI board and Sport Ireland, states: ‘The group consider that, for handover and transition purposes and to manage the serious risks where everyone leaves at once, at least one or possibly a maximum of two members might consider putting themselves forward for positions on the interim board’.
“In accordance with the report, endorsed by the FAI and Sport Ireland, two members of the current board have been nominated by AGM members to stand for the positions of president and vice-president.”
Only one nomination for the position of president has been forthcoming from AGM members whereas three nominations have been received for the role of vice president.
“All eligible council members have been aware since the letter to Minister Ross of April 16th — confirming that the current board would step down on July 27 — that elections for these roles would take place on July 27th.
“This position was further confirmed at the independent Governance Review Group, for the FAI board and Sport Ireland Report launch on June 21.”