The new Vice President of the FAI, Paul Cooke, has said that he believes the Association is “genuinely on the road to reform”.
The Chartered Accountant has a background as a senior executive in Irish business and media but it was as a director of Waterford United and a member of the FAI Council that he achieved prominence in football circles as an outspoken critic of how the organisation was being run long before the current crisis erupted.
In May, he was appointed to a sub-committee which has been helping steer the FAI through troubled waters, and his election as Vice-President at Saturday’s AGM in Trim was confirmation of the extent to which he has come in from the cold in Abbotstown.
Asked if the outsider’s view from the inside has convinced him that there’s genuine substance to the current reform process, Cooke said: “I think it is really transformative. I mean, I wouldn’t have been welcomed, if I had gone for election four or five years ago, I wouldn’t have had a chance. So the fact that I was elected by 20 odd votes — I believe we’re on that journey.
“In my dealings (on the sub-committee) — and, remember, I wasn’t a board member — any information I asked for I was given by staff, by the board. All I can do is go on my experience. They are genuinely on the road to reform.”
And would the new vice- president fancy the presidency itself when the position becomes vacant?
“Would you go away,” he laughed. “I’ll give you an answer. If somebody had said to me six months ago that I’d be sitting here as vice- president, I would have said you’re off your head.”