Sports Minister Shane Ross has said that the government does not see either liquidation or examinership as “a viable option” for the FAI.
He was responding after delegates to Sunday’s reconvened AGM heard that liquidation was a possibility if the Association could not find an urgent solution to its current financial crisis.
In a statement, Minister Ross said: “In response to the events at the reconvened FAI AGM today I wish to state that the government does not see either liquidation or examinership as a viable option for the Association or for Irish Football.
“Over the Christmas period Minister Brendan Griffin and I have been moving with other stakeholders to find a solution to the crisis that includes an acceleration in the pace of reform, the future of government funding, above all a more secure outlook for FAI staff and certainty that grassroots football does not suffer.
A radical change in the FAI culture is essential to underpin other reforms. The long-awaited appointment of an independent chair and three other independent directors, expected in the very near future, should provide the necessary impetus for a new confidence in the reform process.
“In early January Minister Griffin and I expect to meet UEFA, representatives of all League of Ireland clubs, spokespeople for the trades unions, directors of the FAI and other stakeholders in pursuit of a solution that avoids liquidation or examinership but secures the future of Irish football.”
The Minister’s statement came after the FAI had issued a formal apology for what it termed “the mistakes of the past”.
In a statement, the Association said: “The Board of the Football Association of Ireland has tonight issued an apology to the hundreds of thousands involved with Irish football at all levels of the game, to the Irish public and to FAI staff.
“The apology was made following the reconvened AGM of the FAI at the Citywest Hotel in Dublin where delegates were presented with the financial statements for 2018.”
President Donal Conway said:
The clear message from our delegates today is that Irish football wants to move forward and we apologise to all our stakeholders for the mistakes of the past.
Earlier, at a press conference following the reconvened AGM, Conway said that he believed his imminent stepping down as President of the FAI would have a positive effect on the Association’s troubled relationship with Government.
“I think it will,” he said. “The Minister hasn’t hidden his view. There’s a distinction drawn all the time between old guard and new guard and clearly I’m marked as old guard and the Minister wants a complete clear out, the extent of which I’m not quite sure. But I’m the old guard and if I move aside, it can only be helpful.”
Asked about his responsibility for the crisis which has engulfed the FAI, Conway said: “I was part of a board for many years that has to bear responsibility, that has to bear collective responsibility for not doing better. We’re talked about our financial statements today. The picture is bleak, I would accept. It’s not some wild optimism but I think it’s fixable. I think there are solutions.”
Executive Lead Paul Cooke revealed that the FAI have already had another meeting with Minister Ross since the meeting ten days ago at which the Minister ruffled FAI feathers by revealing it needed a cash injection of €18million. It’s understood the second meeting took place last Friday.
”We met subsequently and had a constructive workmanlike meeting and we’re scheduling another meeting shortly,” Cooke said.