Tag Archives: FAI

Co-leaders of the Social Democrats Róisín Shortall and Catherine Murphy

This afternoon.

Politicians are returning to the Dáil after the summer break with Leaders’ Questions set to begin at 2pm.

Meanwhile, on the plinth…

Meanwhile…

Watch Dáil proceedings live from 2pm here

Pic: Gavan Reilly

A European bailout?

Aw ref.

Sport Ireland has ‘no difficulty’ with minister’s statement on FAI president (RTÉ)

From top: Ireland Under-19s during their 5-0 win over Romania in  the UEFA European Under-19 Championship Elite Round in March; Luke Brennan

How healthy is Irish underage soccer?

Answer: A little bit too healthy.

Before heading off to a respectable semi-final exit in the Toulon tournament, the Irish under-21 team beat the senior team 2-1. The funny thing about that, is that most of the talent on the under- 21 team comes from the under-19 team.

If they were able to keep their own players, the under-19 team would most likely beat the under-21 team.

For this reason, the Irish under-19 team head off to compete in the European finals in Armenia this month as victims of their own success.

Eight of their top players have been held back from competing by their UK clubs.

Nathan Collins (who was rumoured to be the subject of a £7M move to Man Utd. earlier this summer) has been held back with a guarantee of more first team football with Stoke City, in order to develop him as a player (or more likely to fatten him up with first team action to attract more offers).

Luca Connell has made his big move to Celtic, first team action is not guaranteed, but it is most likely that potential Champions league qualifier action will hold him back from the trip to Armenia.

Conor Coventry has been held back by West Ham, travelling with the first team to Switzerland to see if he is good enough to provide cover for Declan R**e – and he is.

Jason Knight, the box to box teenage sensation from Cabinteely is off to Florida with Championship side Derby for a pre-season tour with new manager and ex- Barcelona midfielder Phillip Cocu; an experience in itself.

Lee O’Connor is being held back at Manchester United, after his outstanding performance at the Toulon tournament, they may more greatly prize him as an asset.

Adam Idah has signed a professional deal with newly promoted premiership team Norwich, with the guarantee of first team training and the hope that appearances will follow.

Similar assurances were given Aaron Connolly at Brighton, who is the other multi-award winning goal-scorer which Ireland now have representing them in the Premiership.

Troy Parrott occupies his own stratosphere. Should he justify the hype, and there is nothing to suggest he can’t, he will be a once in a generation player that will repay the faith that Mauricio Pochettino intends showing him.

Indications are that he will be named in their summer squad for a trip to Singapore. A chance to prove that he is deserving of a first team place at 17 years of age.

Now that is a lot of quality to be missing out on, surely they can’t compete without eight of their starters?

Well, all but Luca Connell and Jason Knight were unavailable in the qualification process. It didn’t stop the U-19s beating Romania 5-0, Azerbaijan 3-1 and Russia 2-0.

They have quality and confidence in depth.

Adam O’Reilly looks every bit the flinty ambitious midfielder from Cork with an eye for goal that we’ve been missing these last few years.

Ryan Cassidy looks like the player that Robbie Keane wanted to be. Good enough for Liverpool, if he ever makes his dream move to there from Watford.

Where is all this quality coming from? Everywhere.

We may even have to re- assesses the Ross O Carroll Kelly stereotype; the under-19 right back Andy Lyons went to Blackrock College.

When I heard Greystones-born Simon Power interviewed after the under-21 game, he sounded like he just scored a try for Clongowes.

We also have the Reghbas, the Eboseles, the Afolabis, the Omobamideles. All welcome and a great addition. I’m great believer in the theory that the more you represent, the more you can be. The many faces of a new Ireland, with a new team to prove it.

A football team should represent changes in a society, all changes.

I hope it’s true, I hope the change is coming from all corners. I hope also that part of the change is that Irish people are beginning to realise that the best way to support the national team is to support their local team.

Attendances are up 15% at League of Ireland matches this year. No reason why that can’t happen every year.

It’s part of the reason why, when UCD’s highly rated teenage winger Neil Farrugia was offered a move to Man City, he choose to move to Shamrock Rovers instead.

Farrugia earned 600 points in his leaving certificate and is a gifted Biomedical Science student; he has options. The idea of turning out for a team that had an attendance of 6,414 in a recent derby game with Bohemians is also something which wasn’t always on offer in Ireland.

I think Irish football has a lot to gain from the rising affluence in Irish society. Along with increasing the genetic diversity, it means that there is a few quid to pay for a physio, have the video analysis gear, or think a bit more about diet.

When I was young, sports teams were managed by whoever’s dad had a car and could drive to matches. That wasn’t so long ago. Now we are an affluent nation, with cars, a few quid, well organised leagues and people with a few spare hours to volunteer and run them. These things make a difference.

I think every type of diversity is useful, even our sporting diversity. It may well be why Ireland punches above our weight in sport. Consider that Soccer competes with Gaelic football, Hurling, Rugby and the rest for it’s playing pool.

No other European country has such diverse sporting interest and there is a growing acceptance that a range of sports may be better for development than a relentless Tiger Woods style focus on one sport. Perhaps diversity is the reason for success, rather than a hindrance to it.

Go diversity, Go Ireland.

Luke Brennan is an Ireland born, Portugal-based writer, entrepreneur and sports fan.

Uefa Under-19 Championships

Previously: Green Shoots (Or: Why I Think We Might Win The 2030 World Cup)

Former CEO of FAI John Delaney (second from right) on his way to an Oireachtas committee hearing last month

More as they get it.

Rollingnews

Minister for Sport Shane Ross; letter from FAI to Mr Ross

Minister for Sport Shane Ross is currently addressing the Oireachtas sports committee.

He’s just said the entire FAI board is to step down.

He said:

“This move is to be welcomed and it is hopefully the first step on the road to rebuilding trust in this important NGB. Considering the issues over which most of this board has presided and those issues being obvious even before the various investigations have started, it is clearly time for a regime change.”

He also said no new capital payments will be made to the FAI until he is satisfied with the new measures put in place.

UPDATE:

Deloitte audit of FAI; chair of the committee Fergus O’Dowd, CEO of Sport Ireland John Treacy, Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy

UPDATE:

Mr Treacy tells the committee that no other organisation that receives grant funding from Sport Ireland has had a form H4 filed against them to the CRO.

In response to a question about this from Fine Gael TD Noel Rock, Mr Treacy said:

“Not that we’re aware of. Never heard of it before. So we’re hearing about this for the first time. We heard about it this morning.”

UPDATE:

Asked if funding will be restored to the FAI before the year is out, Mr Treacy said: “Well, there’s a lot of work to be done.”

He said there is a mechanism to fund on a monthly basis “but that’s an issue when all the various bits and pieces have been done”.

Watch live in link above

Pic (letter): Ruth Coppinger

Pic (audit): Gavan Reilly

Meanwhile

This afternoon.

Earlier…

Sport Ireland CEO John Treacy (left) and Chairman of the Irish Sports Council, Kieran Mulvey (first right) arrive at Leinster House this morning for a joint Committee meeting on Transport, Tourism & Sport to discuss governance, oversight and scrutiny of the Football Association of Ireland (FAI)

Today, at 12.30pm.

Senior members of Sport Ireland will go before the Oireachtas sports committee to discuss the Football Association of Ireland, its funding, and matters concerning its governance again.

Ahead of today’s meeting, last night the FAI sent a letter to the same committee in response to questions that the committee felt weren’t answered when FAI senior members went before it last week.

The letter was signed off by interim CEO Rea Walshe.

In relation to a question on the FAI’s auditing process and whether auditors have access to all books and records including records of cheques, the FAI said:

“As part of the audit process, we are obliged to provide and do provide access to all the books and records of the Association for the financial year.”

Asked if the FAI has an active Tax Clearance Certificate, the FAI said:

“The association holds an active tax clearance certificate, which confirms that all current and prior tax affairs are in order.”

In response to a question about the FAI’s overdraft and specifically: why there is a difference between the overdraft as per the 2016 financial statement and the current overdraft, the FAI said:

“In 2013 the Association moved its overdraft facility from Danske Bank to Bank of Ireland. In 2016 the Association successfully refinanced its bank loans from Corporate Capital Trust to Bank of Ireland. The amendments to the overdraft facility formed part of the restructuring.”

Asked why the €100,000 loan given by former CEO John Delaney to the FAI was not included in the Monthly Financial Accounts, the FAI said:

“The monthly accounts presented to the Board and Finance Committee contain the Profit and Loss account which would be the normal way to assess the up-to-date performance of the business in relation to variances to budget. The €100,000 loan was accounted for in the balance sheet. Balance sheet accounts are reviewed by the finance team on a monthly basis. The transaction did not affect the Profit and Loss account of the Association.”

Asked why were other bank accounts – the FAI told the committee it has 24 bank accounts – not utilised in the absence of the €100,000 loan issue, the FAI said:

“At the time the association was provided with the €100,000 loan, it had utilised all available funding across its bank accounts.”

Asked what was the category of payment and payment terms of the creditor [who sought payment just before the loan was given to the FAI], the FAI said:

“We confirm that this information is commercially sensitive.”

Asked what account the €100,000 was paid into, the FAI said:

“It was lodged into our deposit account, which is the account the majority of our receipts go into. This is the bank account listed on our invoices. An internal transfer from this account to our main current account, which holds the overdraft facility, was then performed.”

Asked what comprises the €430,000 contained in note 20 of the 2016 Financial Statements, the FAI said:

“The €430,000 related to the CEO’s salary and the honorarium to officers of the board.”

Previously: The Nation Holds Its Breath

Kicking Off

Ah here.

Tonight,

Ballsbridge Hotel, Dublin 4

Nick writes:

On the way to the Ireland vs Liverpool Legends game (Sean Cox fundraiser at the Aviva)

Meanwhile

Meanwhile…

Tonight.

Cork City Vs St Patrick’s Athletic League of Ireland match.

Sinn Fein TD and former Cork City chairman Jonathan O’Brien was ejected from from Turner’s Cross last night following a protest against the FAI.

O’Brien – who was part of the Oireachtas Committee that met with the officials of the Association on Wednesday – was escorted out of the ground by Gardai….

TD thrown out of Cork City match at protest against FAI (RTÉ)

This morning.

FIGHT!

Update
:

Update:

Yesterday: The Nation Holds Its Breath

Earlier.

The FAI delegation, including John Delaney (centre), arrive at Leinster House this morning

Update:

This morning.

Senior members of the Football Association of Ireland, including former CEO and current executive vice-president of the FAI John Delaney, are appearing before the Oireachtas sports committee.

It follows revelations in The Sunday Times on St Patrick’s Day that the former CEO of the FAI John Delaney gave the FAI a “bridging loan” of €100,000 on April 25, 2017 – a loan Sport Ireland said it knew nothing about – and that the FAI paid €3,000 a month in rent for Mr Delaney for several years while he was earning €360,000.

Mr Delaney failed to secure a High Court injunction on the eve of St Patrick’s Day to prevent publication of Mark Tighe’s story about the loan.

On Monday, the FAI’s president Donal Conway released a statement saying, among other things, that previous comments made by the FAI in respect of the loan “did not accurately reflect the board’s level of awareness” about  it.

He added: “This matter is being considered by the board sub-committee.”

The meeting can be watched live above.

Previously: John Delaney on Broadsheet

Meanwhile…

UPDATE:

President of the FAI Donal Conway (above) has told the committee that if all cheques issued by the FAI before the week ending April 28, 2017, had been cashed in, it would have been likely that there would have been “insufficient funds” to cover all the cheques.

He said it was a “short-term issue” as there was a legitimate expectation of funds making their way to the FAI, via “various income streams”, including from tickets, sponsorship, grant funding and “other sources”.

Mr Conway said Mr Delaney’s cheque of April 25, 2017, “provided immediate financial relief” to the FAI – particularly in respect of one creditor’s request to drawdown money from the FAI on April 26.

He said the board acknowledges that the circumstances of the loan was “exceptional”, adding that the loan was repaid on June 16, 2017.

Mr Conway said no contract or agreement was entered into between the FAI and Mr Delaney and no interest or charges were levied, or paid, by the FAI in respect of the transaction.

UPDATE:

Solidarity-People Before Profit TD Ruth Coppinger tweetz:

This is how John Delaney is going to play it at the Oireachtas committee.

“I acted in the best interests of the association….I did it [wrote the €100,000 cheque] in the best interests of football.”

Mr Delaney speaking at the committee this morning.

UPDATE:

Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy is the first politician to ask questions.

This is because she was the first politician to raise concerns and request Mr Delaney to come before the committee – last year.

Mr Murphy asked Mr Delaney:

“Just to clear one thing up Mr Delaney, you said you recall asking the director of finance [Eamon Breen] about any reporting or disclosure of obligations out of the €100,000 payment, can you recall the response to that?”

Mr Delaney replied:

“I’ve made it clear in my statement, Deputy Murphy, that I can’t add any further to that…given the various investigations that are taking place.”

Ms Murphy turns her attention to Mr Conway and asks him about the statement earlier this week in which he FAI said previous comments about the board’s awareness of the loan were inaccurate.

Mr Conway said, at the time of the loan, three members of the board were aware of it, while other board members became aware of it on March 4, 2019, during a regular board meeting. [The Sunday Times contacted FAI about the loan on March 1].

Ms Murphy later asks why the board was “kept in the dark”.

Mr Conway said: “This is the only occasion that this kind of a transaction actually occurred. And the matter…was dealt with at the level of the finance department and the CEO [Delaney].”

Mr Conway also told Ms Murphy that, while the board were informed of the loan on March 4, there was a conference call about Mr Delaney’s injunction attempt on March 16 (the night of which the injunction took place).

Fine Gael TD Noel Rock asked if the creditor that wasn’t named – but prompted the need for the loan from Mr Delaney – was Dundalk FC.

Mr Conway said: “That’s a matter, an internal matter in the FAI. I’m not going to go into that.”

Mr Rock accepted this and then asked if the “creditor” had made previous requests for funding, before April 25, 2019.

Mr Conway said the FAI would have had an “ongoing dialogue” with that creditor”.

Asked of the FAI was close to becoming “effectively insolvent” at the time of this request for money, Mr Conway said:

“I wouldn’t accept that view. I would draw your attention to our accounts each year. I think we’ve had nine consecutive years of profit. I think cash-flow, as I say, can be a challenge to manage but because of the timing of revenue or income streams, that does make it difficult.

“That doesn’t lead to a situation where you could conclude that the business was not a going concern, or insolvent.”

Fine Gael Senator John O’Mahony asked Mr Conway who within FAI made the decision not to inform Sport Ireland about the loan.

Mr Conway said it was “an omission on our part”.

Mr O’Mahony suggested “somebody made a call” not to tell Sport Ireland.

But Mr Conway said: “That may not be the record, deputy.”

Mr O’Mahony also asked Mr Conway about the FAI-commissioned Jonathan Hall and Associates review – which the FAI claims prompted the change of Mr Delaney’s job from CEO of the FAI to executive vice-president of the FAI (a week after The Sunday Times story about the loan).

Asked when the report was commissioned, Mr Conway said “early March”.

[It should be noted Mark Tighe has reported that The Sunday Times first contacted the FAI about the loan on March 1, 2019, his story was published on March 17 and Mr Delaney’s role change was announced on the night of March 24]

Asked about the terms of reference of the review, Mr Conway said: “It was essentially a review into the senior management structure.”

Asked if there were “no specific terms of reference”, Mr Conway said it was a scoping review.

Mr Conway said the completed review was given to the FAI in “late March” and the decision to change Mr Delaney’s role took place “within days”.

Fianna Fáil TD Robert Troy asked Mr Conway about the hiring by the FAI of Jonathan Hall for the review.

Mr Conway said Mr Hall had previously done “considerable work for the FAI” in the area of corporate governance.

He then went on to confirm that the review wasn’t put out to tender.

Asked who decided to hire Mr Hall, Mr Conway said: “The board.”

Donal Conway (centre), director of public relations and communications at the FAI Cathal Dervan (back centre), solicitor Aidan Eames (back right)

On March 18 – a day after the loan story broke – the FAI released a statement saying the FAI board was “kept fully informed in relation to the matter [the €100,000 loan] at all times”.

But this wasn’t the case.

Further to this…

Ms Coppinger put to Mr Delaney that he made it clear in his statement, he will not speak about his former role as CEO of the FAI, or the €100,000 loan, but he is willing to speak about his current role.

She asked if it’s fair to say he’s still “double-jobbing” as he currently has two roles – executive vice president of the FAI and being on the UEFA committee.

[Mr Delaney gave an interview to Tipp FM last week saying he was doing three jobs and this was too much for him]

Mr Delaney ultimately said “no” and went on to explain what his roles will require of him.

Ms Coppinger then had this exchange with Mr Delaney…

Coppinger: “Do you think it’s fair that you are answerable to the public in your roles? Including in your current role, given that the public do contribute to the buying of the match tickets, to the football jerseys, to the merchandise and while you’ve said here today, for legal reasons, following the Angela Kerins case, that you’re not willing to talk about it. But do you not think you’ve a duty to answer some questions?”

Delaney: “I’ve read my statement as it is.”

Coppinger: “Ok, well on your current role. Would it be fair or accurate to say that the salary for that is more than the total League of Ireland prize money…”

Fergus O’Dowd [chairman of the committee: “Obviously it’s a question everybody would like answers to in this committee. You [Delaney] don’t have to answer that question, given our…”

Coppinger: “He can if he wants to…”

O’Dowd: “No, no, no, let’s be honest about this now…I’m…”

Coppinger: “He can choose not to…”

O’Dowd: “No, no, what I’m saying is he can answer if he wishes but he doesn’t have to if he doesn’t want to…Our role as a committee is to stay within our remit.”

[Solicitor Aidan Eames passes a note to Mr Delaney]

Coppinger: “Right, well, Mr Delaney has said he’s willing to answer about his current role which is very much connected to, you know, club development, etc, so my questions…”

O’Dowd: “Time is up on this. Everybody will get in again a second time.”

More to follow

Aw, ref!

FIGHT!

Update:

Via Sports Ireland:

‘The Board of Sport Ireland at its meeting today (April 9th) has decided to suspend and withhold future funding to the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) in accordance with Clause 1.1 of Sport Ireland’s Terms and Conditions of Grant Approval.

The decision was taken in light of an acknowledgement by the FAI in its written opening statement to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport tomorrow that in 2017 the FAI did not comply with Clause 4.3 of Sport Ireland’s Terms & Conditions of Grant Approval.

Clause 4.3 specifically relates to ‘Further Reporting’:

“In addition each organisation undertakes to notify Sport Ireland in writing without delay in the event of any material deterioration in its financial position or of any other matter which may jeopardise the organisation’s overall financial viability and/or its ability to comply with its commitments in the Approved Submission, and thereafter to provide Sport Ireland with such information and documentation as Sport Ireland may request in connection with the relevant matter and any steps being taken to rectify it.”

In making the decision to suspend and withhold funding, the Board of Sport Ireland notes that the FAI has already been paid 50% of its 2019 funding to date and some positive steps taken by the FAI in recent days.

This decision will be reviewed by the Board of Sport Ireland as a standing item at each of its future meetings.

The Board of Sport Ireland will consider the reinstatement of funding once all ongoing reports commissioned by the FAI have been completed and the recommendations adopted, and the Board of Sport Ireland is satisfied that all necessary processes and controls are in place to ensure the FAI’s ongoing compliance with the Terms and Conditions of Grant Approval.

Sport Ireland will continue to provide non-financial assistance and guidance to the FAI, which may be helpful in advancing matters.’

Yesterday: Game On