FAI looks to move on from Euro setback as President fights to keep role

Cork native Gerry McAnaney faces a fight to retain his position after fellow board member Dave Moran was proposed to contest an election at an EGM on May 23
FAI looks to move on from Euro setback as President fights to keep role

Cork native Gerry McAnaney faces a fight to retain his position after fellow board member Dave Moran was proposed to contest an election at an EGM on May 23

The FAI and Dublin City Council will swiftly move on from the likelihood of the Aviva Stadium losing its European Championship finals hosting rights by applying to stage other major football events.

As revealed by the Irish Examiner last month, a refusal by public authorities to guarantee a return of fans to stadia by the start of the tournament in June mothballed Ireland’s hopes of remaining as one of the 12 host cities.

Ireland’s participation in the competition was ended by last October’s play-off semi-final defeat to Slovakia, but Dublin’s 51,000-seater arena was due to host three Group E matches and a last-16 tie.

Uefa received assurances from most cities by today's deadline that they could meet the minimum 25% capacity demanded, despite the current Covid-19 landscape across Europe.

The European governing body lost €100m for postponing the showpiece by a year and has set a target of an average 50% capacity across the venues.

Uefa is due to finalise the details of the tournament venues before its executive committee convenes on April 19. Dublin has yet to be officially ruled out, but FAI officials have been pessimistic since the National Public Health Emergency Team signalled a cautious approach to easing lockdown.

FAI chief executive Jonathan Hill had flagged that Ireland would be stripped of its fixtures unless a significant portion of the fans were allowed entry.

It is thought that stadia in Ireland will be fortunate to have 1,200 fans permitted, never mind the 12,000 criteria laid down by Uefa, by the time Poland and Slovakia meet on June 14 in the first of Dublin’s scheduled matches.

The FAI simply ran out of time to reach the attendance standards set by Uefa.

It is understood the FAI will explore the possibility of pitching to stage a Europa League, Europa Conference League or Super Cup final in the second half of the decade. Moreover, it is in the preliminary stages of discussions with the English, Scottish and Welsh football associations about a joint-bid to host the 2030 World Cup.

It comes as FAI President Gerry McAnaney faces a fight to retain his position after fellow board member Dave Moran was proposed to contest an election at an EGM on May 23.

All 12 of the FAI’s board are up for re-election but under a condition linked to the State bailout, two football directors must step down.

This measure to facilitate an equal split between board members drawn from football and independent routes.

The demise of veteran chief executive John Delaney and his board in 2019 triggered a belated infusion of external directors, a reform contained in the Genesis Report of 2002 but ignored.

Initially, the Governance Review Group (GRG) report, commissioned by state agency Sport Ireland in June 2019, recommended one third of the 12-person board be independent but that was subsequently altered by then Sports Minister Shane Ross.

He demanded an increase to six as part of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) attached to the €35m package which saved the FAI from insolvency.

The deadline for implementation is fast approaching.

Under the changes, one member apiece from two-person cohorts representing the amateur and League of Ireland sections must vacate their seats.

Dave Moran is set to relinquish his amateur berth but has tonight been proposed by his affiliate, the Leinster Football Association (LFA) to oust McAnaney and therefore remain at the top table.

Members of the new 141-strong FAI assembly will be balloted at the EGM on May 23 to elect the President on a two-year term.

Cork native McAnaney defeated board member Martin Heraghty 88 to 40 in an election to become the President in January 2019.

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