FAI independent chairman, Roy Barrett, is standing over the process by which he signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the government in January that delivered a financial rescue package for the stricken body.
Doubt and division has arisen this week since FAI interim CEO Gary Owens stated that board members had the opportunity to review the terms and conditions in the MoU before signing off on it “reluctantly”.
The eight elected members on a board of 12 responded to that late on Wednesday night by stating that they did not approve the MoU before it was signed by Barrett, adding that they raised concerns with the chairman when shown the document but did not receive any reply.
The most contentious of the points contained in the MoU is one dictating that the FAI board should be made up of six elected members from the football fraternity and another six independents. With Barrett the independent chairperson, this has led to fears that the football side would be ceding control.
This concern was heightened by a ten-year limit placed on Council members by the MoU but which has since mutated into a fit and proper test, an assessment on any conflicts of interest and a skillset assessment. Pass that and Council members will be able to remain on.
These matters are now due to be discussed on Friday at a special meeting of the FAI Council and Barrett has not just stood over his and Owens' take on events, he has all but accused FAI president Gerry McAnaney and the other elected board members of doing a u-turn on the issue.
“At a Board meeting of the FAI on January 28th, I updated my fellow directors on discussions with the various stakeholders and they mandated me to reach agreements with the Government, Bank of Ireland and UEFA on a financial package to secure the future of the Association,” Barrett's release of Thursday evening reads.
“Late on the evening of January 29th, I was furnished with a copy of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Ireland and the Football Association of Ireland in respect of the restoration of funding and the provision of additional funding support to the FAI for the period 2020-2023.
“On the morning of January 30th, I circulated the Memorandum of Understanding to my fellow Board members. Some expressed discontent with elements of the MoU via email but we had all previously accepted that the overriding need was to ensure the financial future of our Association. I subsequently had no hesitation in signing the MoU on behalf of the Association later that day.”
Barrett has added that two statements were released, both seen by the full board, on foot of signing the MoU and both were in support of it. One was attributed to president and board member McAnaney and another to Barrett himself.
Barrett also noted a statement from Fianna Fail TD Marc MacSharry welcoming the agreement at the time. MacSharry has since been critical of Owens and Barrett and the MoU process. He said this morning on OTB that there was a level of “grubbiness” about governance in the body.
Barrett signed off his statement by stressing the importance of Friday's special Council meeting at the Red Cow Hotel, and the EGM at the month's end which will ultimately decide on whether the reforms and the MoU are accepted or rejected.
“At this point it is imperative that we all work together as an Association to guarantee the funding becomes available to protect our game, our staff and football in Ireland. I look forward to discussing the MoU with Council on Friday and with our AGM members at our EGM on August 31st.
“Whatever views people may have on the MoU, it has always been the case that the ultimate decision as to whether or not the MoU is agreed to and the funding is released, rests with voting members at the EGM.”