No ordinary year, no ordinary AGM

It will be an FAI AGM with more than one difference in Trim today as at least six and possibly seven new faces are elected to the board, no accounts are presented to delegates and, in a flesh and blood illustration that the crisis in Abbotstown is not just a local affair, representatives from both Fifa and Uefa will be on hand to keep an eye on proceedings.

No ordinary year, no ordinary AGM

It will be an FAI AGM with more than one difference in Trim today as at least six and possibly seven new faces are elected to the board, no accounts are presented to delegates and, in a flesh and blood illustration that the crisis in Abbotstown is not just a local affair, representatives from both Fifa and Uefa will be on hand to keep an eye on proceedings.

In the face of government opposition, Donal Conway stands again unopposed as president while the incumbent vice-president, Noel Fitzroy, faces a challenge from two men long seen as reformists critical of the old regime, Paul Cooke and Gerry McAnaney. Six other places will also be filled on what will be an interim 12-person board which will serve for 12 months before fresh elections in 2020.

The six will be comprised of two League of Ireland representatives, two from amateur football, one from schoolboys and one from a combined constituency which includes players, supporters, ‘Football For All’ and other interested parties. Having been nominated by the Schoolboys Football Association of Ireland to rejoin the board – after stepping down last month over initial concerns about representation for the sector – the election of John Earley could create a problem should Noel Fitzroy retain his place, since the Governance Review Group report recommended that a maximum of two of the existing board could serve on the new one to help with the process of transition.

The various constituencies are due to hold meetings ahead of the AGM’s 11am start this morning at which they will finalise their nominations and hold votes.

UCD’s Dick Shakespeare is considered a favourite to secure one of the two League of Ireland places, with Cork City nominee Sean O’Conaill also among the contenders. The Leinster Senior League’s Dave Moran and Munster Senior League’s John Finnegan are believed to be the nominations for the two positions reserved for the junior football ranks, while in the running in another constituency is Stuart Gilhooly, the high-profile solicitor for the PFAI, who, when confirming his candidature, said that what the FAI needs is “independent, objective and critical voices that will challenge conventional thinking”.

In line with the recommendations of the Governance Review Group report — which was overwhelmingly endorsed at last Saturday’s EGM — the process to recruit four independent members to the new board, which will also have an independent chairman, will begin after the AGM.

Donal Conway has said that the FAI hope to have their 2018 accounts available for presentation to members by the late autumn, after it had been flagged that they will not be presented at today’s AGM.

“The explanation I’ve been giving to members is that because of the demands on the finance department, it isn’t an ordinary year,” he said. “And it isn’t any ordinary year in terms of getting an audit ready. It’s a much, much more demanding year than any other year.”

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