At the end of a tumultuous year for the Irish football, delegates will on Sunday face into a third emergency general meeting of the Football Association of Ireland in 2019.
Their trip to the Citywest Hotel on the outskirts of Dublin won’t be one-dimensional.
That EGM is sandwiched between a reconvened annual general meeting at noon and a gathering of the expanded 79-strong council.
For all the words and procedures on pages, though, the most pertinent information sought from the floor will be numerical.
Specifically, here’s just six of the burning questions:
- How much are the FAI’s current liabilities?
- Has the FAI sourced a guarantor for their refinancing rescue package?
- Why did the FAI, as claimed by Sports Minister Shane Ross, request a government bailout of €18m on December 16?
- Is Uefa’s advice of selling their stake in the Aviva Stadium a live possibility?
- How many staff will lose their jobs in 2020?
- What was the rationale for paying a severance package to John Delaney when the former CEO remains part of several investigations?
If the notion of a new FAI is to be taken seriously, this information needs to be shared from the table on the stage.
Paul Cooke, the vice-president acting as voluntary executive lead since John Foley turned down the interim CEO post last month, has encouraged questions and is likely to get them.
A decade ago, when he was outside the fence as a mere delegate representing Waterford, his queries on finances at an AGM in Monaghan went unanswered.
Such is the interest in the ongoing FAI crisis that most of the 227 eligible voters will likely attend despite the timing of the summit.
The sequel of the AGM was a necessity after the officers were unable to furnish accounts at the initial gathering in July.
As per rule, the financial statements were distributed to members and media 21 days in advance on December 6.
Cooke’s prediction of the figures causing widespread shock was spot-on.
Net current liabilities of almost €63m were incurred up to the end of 2018 and the accounts for the previous two years had to be restated.
There was also some revisionism by Deloitte, the FAI’s auditors and their report accompanying the latest set of accounts included a number of caveats, most worryingly their refusal to confirm the FAI as a “going concern”.
That has consequences for their ability to secure a refinancing deal.
Cooke has admitted the delay in four independent directors — including the chairperson — accepting their posts to complete the 12-person interim board is linked to this challenge.
With Ross insistent the state won’t either bail out the FAI or act as a guarantor for the deal, the very survival of the FAI in its current form is under threat.
Ross is due to meet with Uefa on January 14 to discuss options but his public description of the FAI as a “basket-case” has done nothing to smooth relations between the factions.
His insensitive tweet on St Stephen’s Day, posing the rhetorical question of whether the FAI had cooked his goose, has also been widely condemned.
Jimmy Mowlds, a development officer working with disadvantaged kids in Darndale in Dublin, said the social media posting displayed a callous disregard for 200 staff fearful of their jobs.
Political figures and legislators have also outlined their dismay.
Yet Ross and the government ultimately holds the keys to restoring state funding and as it increasingly appears, represents the sole buyer of the FAI’s shareholding in the national stadium.
“The Minister is clearly digging his heels in,” said David Hearst, Treasurer of the Leinster Football Association, on Friday night.
“My worry now is whether the banks will want to know about the FAI.
“If the mothership is in trouble, then we’re all in bother.”
That’s why, despite these times of unprecedented upheaval, don’t be surprised to see the proceedings at Citywest conclude with a united front from the masses.