The FAI will today elect a new president at an EGM in Dublin. It’s a two-horse race to replace the outgoing Donal Conway, with board member Martin Heraghty and council member Gerry McAnaney the candidates contesting the election.
At the Association’s AGM in July, when Conway was re-elected as president, McAnaney lost out to Paul Cooke in the contest for vice president while, on the same day, Heraghty was elected to his place on the board.
A former senior civil servant who has also served on the board of a number of semi-state bodies, Heraghty has been chairman of Sligo Rovers since 2016 and, should he win today, his election to the presidency would create a vacancy for another League of Ireland representative to join the new-look FAI board. A place for a fourth independent director, as mandated by governance reforms, has also yet to be filled.
McAnaney, a former commandant in the army who has represented the Defence Forces and, more recently, Football For All on the FAI National Council, has had a wide involvement in football administration over many years. A Dubliner who has long made his home in Cork, he enjoyed a lengthy association with College Corinthians as well as stints as a player with Cobh Ramblers and Cork City.
The departure of Donal Conway, who found himself front and centre in the fire-fighting as the FAI plunged into crisis last year, will remove the last remaining link with the board of the John Delaney era.
It was in early December, on the same day publication of their accounts revealed the full gravity of the FAI’s financial plight, that Conway announced he would be stepping down at today’s EGM, bringing his planned one-year extension as president to a premature close — something which had been long been demanded by Minister for Sport Shane Ross in his push for wholesale regime change in Abbotstown.
Today’s election of Conway’s successor is the latest act in a set of sweeping changes which this week saw former international Niall Quinn unveiled as deputy interim CEO. In his first interviews on taking up the role, Quinn did little to dampen growing confidence that a deal to tackle the FAI’s crippling debt — involving government, UEFA and the Association’s main lenders, Bank of Ireland — is about to be announced. “I am led to believe that assistance is in place from the three stakeholders that will allow the game to move forward,” he said.