Special FAI Senior Council meeting set for next week over 'ticking time bomb' government deal

A stormy meeting is expected at the socially-distant summit
Special FAI Senior Council meeting set for next week over 'ticking time bomb' government deal

A stormy special meeting of FAI Senior Council is expected next Friday after the Association confirmed the socially-distant summit.

Leinster Football Association of Ireland (LFA) delegate James Kelly requested the meeting to discuss what he brands the “ticking time bomb” of the proposed Memo of Understanding (MoU).

If rule changes attached to the MoU are passed by a two-thirds majority at an EGM, the power on the FAI’s 12-person board would be shared evenly between football and independent directors but with Roy Barrett, the first-ever external chairman, holding the casting vote.

The government insists the suspension of state funding worth €19m won’t be lifted unless this and other governance reforms are implemented.

Also on the agenda at the Red Cow Hotel, the FAI confirmed, is the composition of football and business committees, the future role of Council, and the deferral of the AGM from July to September.

Under FAI Rule 15.12, Mr Kelly required 20 signatures from 79 Council members to host the meeting but he attained 49 within a week.

Last week, secretary general of public expenditure and reform Robert Watt joined the board as the fourth and final independent director but the new chairman Barrett agreed with former sports minister Shane Ross in January to expand the external presence.

This has angered both board and council members, who feel they had already modernised the organisation in the post-John Delaney era last July by ratifying the introduction of four independent directors.

Indeed, questions have been raised in various circles about the standard of governance at the new FAI.

Politicians Marc MacSharry and Mick Wallace, who also represents Wexford FC on Council, are leading the outcry. They have suggested that Barrett, along with interim CEO Gary Owens and his deputy Niall Quinn, are continuing the work they started as part of their Visionary Group. That cohort set out a series of objectives last year either side of a financial and governance crisis engulfing the organisation.

Two high-profile League of Ireland delegates on Senior Council have also sought answers around the association’s finances and reform agenda.

Correspondence from Shelbourne co-owner Andrew Doyle and Cabinteely chairman Larry Bass to Barrett last month followed just a fortnight after Nixon Morton lodged a letter of complaint to Uefa and Fifa.

Both Doyle and Bass were elected to the FAI’s finance committee back on October 25 and were aggrieved that the new forum had not convened almost nine months on, a period in which significant financial decisions, such as the state’s bailout package and refinancing deal with Bank of Ireland, have been made.

Seán Brodie, a partner with the professional services firm PWC, last month quit the FAI’s audit risk and compliance committee, listing a “lack of progress” among his reasons.

Establishing the new committees formed part of the Governance Review Group (GRG) recommendations enshrined by members into the FAI rule book in July 2019 but they have yet to be fully populated.

Owens has applied to assume the CEO’s job on a permanent basis as the temporary contracts of himself and Quinn were due to expire this month.

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