FAI Board members threatened with legal action

The threat is levelled by senior Council member Nixon Morton in a letter to the 12-person Board
FAI Board members threatened with legal action
Nixon Morton is aghast that an EGM confirmed for August 31 is taking precedence over an AGM now not scheduled until October

On what could be a landmark day for the future of the FAI, Board members have been threatened with legal action if they don’t stage an AGM by August 31.

The threat is levelled by senior Council member Nixon Morton in a letter to the 12-person Board issued this morning through his legal counsel, LK Shields.

Mr Morton, who represents the FAI Schools on the 79-member Council, due to meeting today at 4pm for an emergency summit, eight weeks ago wrote to Fifa and Uefa expressing fears about Irish football losing its sovereignty.

The AGM, due to take place on July 25 in Galway, was postponed due to the difficulties of assembling 205 delegates into a venue amid Covid-19 restrictions. However, any deferral is subject to Council approval and Morton is aghast that an EGM confirmed for August 31 is taking precedence over an AGM now not scheduled until October.

“It is perfectly clear that your vague proposal to defer the AGM and replace it with an EGM is a stratagem designed purely to avoid the automatic consequences of your ceasing to be directors under FAI Rule 22.2 and to ensure, so far as you can, your own re-appointment,” read the letter.

“Your self-serving EGM proposal is designed to circumvent the Rule 22.2 and entirely ignores your fiduciary duties and obligations under Rule 27.1.

“You are under contractual and fiduciary obligations to convene the AGM with due notice for no later than August 31.

“You are not entitled to ignore these obligations in the hope that other, self-serving, resolutions may be passed by the members. What you propose would be governance abuse of the highest order.

“Therefore we call on you on behalf of our client to confirm that you will convene the AGM strictly in accordance with the Rules to take place no later than 31 August and that you will bring to the attention of members their duty under the FAI constitution to nominate and appoint the ‘football directors’ according to Rule 22.

“If you fail to give this written confirmation by return our client will have no option other than to take the matter further which may include seeking such relief from the courts as he may be so advised.” 

The missive, circulated to fellow Council members, is sure to raise the temperature further ahead of today’s meeting to be chaired by President Gerry McAnaney.

It comes as interim deputy CEO Niall Quinn accused the elected Board members, including McAnaney, of creating propaganda over the contentious Memorandum of Understanding.

Yesterday was another day of claim and counterclaim over who knew what on the day independent chairman Roy Barrett brokered the state bailout deal just over six months ago.

While the eight directors of the 12-person Board drawn from the football ranks insist they didn’t approve nor sign the terms of the MoU, Barrett declared on Thursday evening that he’d been mandated to strike a rescue deal with then sports minister Shane Ross.

Today’s gathering of the Council members, including League of Ireland club owners Mick Wallace, Garrett Kelleher, and Andrew Doyle, will demand concise answers from Barrett.

Two-thirds from the wider membership of 206 delegates will have to ratify the MoU at an EGM on August 31 for state funding to be restored.

Quinn, parachuted in as interim deputy chief executive by fellow former Visionary Group colleague Barrett within a fortnight of his appointment, didn’t hold back in his criticism of the eight, who felt forced to go public to refute a version of events around the MoU conveyed by interim chief executive Gary Owens yesterday.

“The divide that exposed itself very late on Wednesday night is something the public is getting fed up of,” Quinn said on Virgin Media TV.

“I’m not on the Board but the propaganda has to stop. This is putting doubts in the minds of people ahead of a crucial vote to save the Association.

“Of course, issues need fixing to ensure all sides are happy but failure to back the MoU will leave Irish football in the wild west.

“We’d be letting down the lifeblood of game - players, volunteers, coaches, and a group close to my heart, the 200 FAI staff.” 

Quinn’s plea for unity throughout this week is becoming more unrealistic as today’s showdown, called for by 49 Council members, inches closer.

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