Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, Dublin 2.
Earlier: Some People Are On The Pitch
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, Dublin 2.
Earlier: Some People Are On The Pitch
NEWS | Niall Quinn appointed as FAI Interim Deputy CEO pic.twitter.com/yMENVfRCTR
— FAIreland ⚽️🇮🇪 (@FAIreland) January 23, 2020
In a statement, the FAI says:
“Niall is a former professional football player who has represented the Republic of Ireland national team 92 times, as well as playing in the English top flight for Arsenal FC, Manchester City FC and Sunderland AFC.
As well as being a former board member of Sport Ireland, Niall is the former Chairman of Sunderland AFC and a successful businessman across diverse industries in Ireland and abroad.
In addressing the current challenges facing the FAI, the executive team want to ensure that the organisation’s core objective of the promotion and development of the game of football in Ireland is prioritised.
Niall’s role with the team will focus on leading a future League of Ireland strategy, the overall development of the game in Ireland, including supporting grassroots and community initiatives together with our player pathway programmes.
Niall will also focus on helping restoring and building key relationships and trust with key peer groups and the media.
Gary Owens, FAI interim CEO, said: “We are really pleased that someone of Niall’s calibre is joining the team. Football is such an important game in this country at every level.
“Niall not only brings great insight and experience to developing the game but is passionate about football in Ireland – his energy and commitment is a great fit for the FAI as we begin reform of the organisation and look to create a better future for football in Ireland.”
this is absolute bollocks.
the man’s a complete charlatan. https://t.co/mdsA03VOcA
— Mick McCarthy’s First Touch (@WoolbertoSilva) January 23, 2020
Minister for Sport Shane Ross at an Oireachtas Sports Committee this morning
The Minister also stated that if the FAI were to go under, his “guess” would be that the League of Ireland would go with it.
Minister Brendan Griffin said the FAI’s debts are €62 million — not €55 million — when funding and loans owed to UEFA are taken into account.
The future of the league will be part of the topics discussed in a planned meeting between the Government and UEFA in January.
Earlier, it was revealed an independent audit into the FAI has said that the organisation is not fit to handle public funds.
Yesterday: FAI, Deloitte And Adjustments
From top: FAI; Deloitte; Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy; Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
During Leaders’ Questions.
Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy raised Deloitte and how the company audited the debt-riddled Football Association of Ireland for 23 years.
Ms Murphy said the whole idea of having an external auditor is “that you have independent eyes on your accounts”.
But, she asked Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, “can that really be the case after 23 years of doing the same job for the same organisation?”
She went on to say:
“Financial information which was published recently during the unfolding of the FAI saga showed some startling adjustments to the FAI accounts for previous year.
“In 2016, for example, an originally reported profit, it was adjusted from €2.344million to just €66,000.
“In 2017, a profit in the accounts of €2.8million was adjusted to the point that it ended up being a loss of €2.9million in their accounts.
“This is in addition to the fact that the Revenue audit in 2019 revealed an underpayment of taxes and, together with interest and penalties, led to additional liability of €2.3million.
“It begs the question: Would the FAI have managed to secure the tax clearance certificate they needed to access Government grants?
“Taoiseach, you, yourself, were a Sports Minister, and you know that Government grants are paid on foot of a tax clearance certificate in addition to audited accounts but should we now be looking at a system whereby organisations are required to show evidence of audit rotation with in-built time limits for each audit period before a rotation is required. Good governance requires such a system.
“The UK, for example, have introduced a system of grading their audit firms which is also used to ensure rotation. They plan to publish the grades and past performance of the large audit companies and they’ve also introduced more powerful audit oversight.”
“…Taoiseach, my questions are: Do you accept that there is an issue with the same external audit firm, having an audit contract with the same organisation for 23 years or indeed anything near it?
“The EU Statutory Audit Regulations in 2016 are supposed to introduce that but I don’t understand why that hasn’t happened and would you support making such a rotation system a pre-requisite for Government grant funding in addition to tax clearance certificates?”
In response, Mr Varadkar said:
“Thanks deputy, I don’t want to cast aspersions on any particular audit firm, nor on the many thousands of very good people who work in that particular firm. But I do think the deputy asks good question and makes a very good point.
“And it is a principle of good corporate governance, that organisations shouldn’t be audited by the same people for ever and ever and ever again. So I think that’s something, certainly, that Sport Ireland, and other public bodies should examine as to whether it is made a condition of Government grant aid – that auditors are rotated after a period of time.
“And the same applies to board members as well. We often see a situation in a lot of organisations that we fund, whether its charities, whether its sporting bodies, whether its local task force and so on, where you have the same people on the board for 10, 20, you know, 25 years and that’s not good corporate governance either.
“You should have a rotation of board members too so I think they are definitely areas where I think Government can be more active in requiring turnovers of auditors and turnovers of board members as a condition of funding in the future.”
“In terms of the independent audit that’s been done, that was provided to Sport Ireland to the ministers, and is now being passed on to An Garda Síochána, and the Director of Corporate Enforcement is also being notified. The purpose of the audit was to get a clearer picture of the financial and governance issues within the FAI and to chart a course for the association to deal with the serious failings in order to restore confidence and public funding to football in Ireland.
“The board of Sport Ireland considered the reports on the 27th of November, welcomed that the audit found that State funding given to FAI was expended for the purposes that it was given and I think that’s an important point that we should reassure taxpayers and the public, that the taxpayers’ money that was given to FAI was used for the purpose intended…”
Murphy: “…there was a European Union statutory audit regulation introduced in 2016 and it does include mandatory reporting, or mandatory rotation over quite a long period of time. But why doesn’t that not apply here, given that was introduced in 2016?
“And that would have maybe changed the auditors and had a fresh look at a much earlier stage?”
Varadkar: “Deputy I honestly don’t know why that doesn’t apply in this case but I will check it out and provide you with a more detailed reply. It may well be, and I’m only guessing here, that that directive applies to bodies that are majority, or majorly publicly funded, whereas this is abode that received only a small proportion of its funding from the Government. But that’s just my guess, that’s often the way European directives work.
“They apply to largely funded or majority funded bodies, not ones that receive a proportion of their funding from the State but, like I said, I’ll check out on that. And I will ask the Minister for Public Expenditure to examine the wider issue – if public money is going to a third party, through to a voluntary body, to charity, to an NGO, surely it is appropriate that they are properly audited and they rotate their auditors and a bit like the FAI, appropriate that they should rotate their leadership as well, their chairman, their board members, and not have the same people in charge for 10, 20, 30 years which is just bad corporate governance practice, I think we’ll all agree.”
Watch back in full here (from 34.30)
Fiachra Ó Cionnaith tweetz:
The FAI has declined to attend a meeting of the Oireachtas sports committee tomorrow which was due to discuss the ongoing financial issues at the organisation.
Former FAI CEO John Delaney and Sports Minister Shane Ross
Sports Minister Shane Ross gave an interview on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland when he was asked if was “bailing out” the Football Association of Ireland.
In response, he said:
“I hate that sort of expression. What we’re doing at the moment is we are looking after the €2.9million which we give, which we have been giving to the FAI. We’ve withdrawn that funding and what we’re going to do there, is ensure that that gets to the small clubs.
“We’re going to absolutely ensure that that gets to the players, to the grassroots, and that it doesn’t go near the FAI because the FAI… bail-out is a very pejorative word. But it’s a basket case.
“And to ask the Government to come in and bail it out, when we don’t even know the extent of the black hole there, it’s an appalling vista and to ask us to bail it out? No. That’s not going to happen.
“We want to protect taxpayers’ funding. We also want to protect the grassroots. They’re the important people. We’re interested in football, not so interested in the FAI.
Listen back in full here
Previously: At The End Of The Day: €55,067,472
From top: John Delaney; Accountant and FAI VP Paul Cooke (left) and FAI President Donal Conway at the Football Association of Ireland Annual accounts publication for 2018 last Monday where it was disclosed that the organistaion has current liabilities of more than 55M Euro; Vanessa Foran
Before Kick Off, allow me revise my own FAI Year in Review from earlier this year.
I realised as I was running the rule over the 2018 accounts, that I had no choice but to go back into the now Revised 2017 year to try and establish the real financial story from its corrected opening position.
In the same month the flamboyancy of the original Report of 2017 was making its splash , its Financial content was already ordered (by ODCE) to be Revised.
I get that, it’s not uncommon and the report did flag the loan from a Director. But within a month again, April 2019 – Deloitte’s admitted (and what I had already warned) “proper accounts and records had not been kept.”
Also subsequent to the Balance Sheet date and before March 2019; a mighty Revenue Audit that caught VAT and what I consider to be the scummiest of all employer behaviours – underpayment of Employer Taxes. The expression used is “significant underpayment.”
Yet further down into the report (detailed fully on page 38 (ii)) we find the still only estimated charge is €2,712,721.00, and the payroll taxes are attached to the former CEO’s PPS number, so at least they weren’t deducting the canteen staffs payroll and spending it on birthday parties.
And page 3 lives up to its reputation – it also reveals a number of cracks in the Governance structure, such as no Internal Audit, no Procurement Policy, and the one that takes my breath away “There was no policy or standard protocol regarding business cases, options appraisal or business justifications.”
In other words, the Board, the Council and the Staff could use the FAI’s cash to buy, pay, spend, acquire, promise, guarantee and dispose without any control mechanisms and safeguards, like purchase orders or even a tender procedure.
This would explain why their former CEO’s additional payroll benefits (see pg 38 (i) but have a stiff drink first) were never documented or fully costed or even approved.
By page 4 is what I suspected here all along, yet big pockets Deloitte’s signed off anyway “… it was noted that not all relevant audit information had been provided to the Association’s statutory auditor.”
And for how many years did Deloitte’s provide the assurance of their External Audit opinion, and the other Assurance Services to the Stakeholders of the FAI? Answers on the back of a beermat.
Note this: the Board nor its elected Treasurer or its Finance Department or its External Auditors noticed John Delaney was costing an additional € 428,571 per year since 2014 and NOBODY thought to budget for it until 2022.
And yet it was all there, in front of the senior Management, the Auditors and the Directors. Even today, look at what the FAI think the function of Governance is.
You’d want to be a Siberian Nomad to not be aware of the decades of messing at the top of the FAI, but John Delaney’s employment contract rolling out like this, apparently agreed and signed off without the Board having anything to do with it, is for me anyway, when the Board officially lost control of the organisation.
The established scatty environment already embedded in the FAI allowed his ego to prosper when he joined, so it was only a matter of time before the Board would be answering to a man that dictated his own terms.
It never made sense to me, and I may have commented here or there about doubting John Delaney’s claims that he would be paid likewise in the private sector, it’s sad that nobody really challenged that until it came to this point.
John Delaney brought few skills to and had no capacity to enhance the organisation. His appointment was flawed from the start. And people knew that then; yet here we are.
Whatever happens next between all the external investigations, from Revenue, to CAB, to the next Audit team, the very fact that he held posts that required both the very best of Fitness and Probity standards from himself, it also required he, along with his Chair, had oversight of the Fitness and Probity regime; yet he still allowed his real cost to his employer be under reported by €428,571 a year.
But John Delaney’s finally finalised total renumeration cost is not what has the FAI in the trouble it is in today; it was his incompetence to run a high-profile multi-activity and very publicly enfranchised organisation.
He got away with year on year failures, by pandering and promises, back-pats and unhampered power building. A blind eye was cast by more than just the Board, but it is the Board that is responsible.
They failed to protect the organisation, they failed to ensure the growth and prosperity of the organisation; and they failed the primary duty of a Director, that of Independence and being Free from Influence.
They abandoned stewardship of the governing body of a sport that contributes to the identity of millions of Irish everywhere.
They were supposed to be the curators of Irish Soccer for their terms of office, yet they humiliated it by not giving it the respect and attention the FAI deserved from its Directors; they mutilated its reputation – and treated it like roadkill.
The Directors over the years they allowed John Delaney to run the organisation into insolvency, may well think they should have been able to trust the endorsement of their External Auditors, with their annual nothing-to-see-here Audit Opinions. Wrong.
They, and I can respect the role of a Volunteer Director as I walk in those shoes, so I take no pleasure in this, they – those directors should be rightly ashamed of themselves.
For reasons I’ll not disclose, I do sincerely believe that Donal Conway is a man who held the interests of the organisation and the grassroots of Irish Soccer dearly, yet he cannot deny he allowed himself to be influenced and persuaded.
I regret this has happened to a man whose volunteerism and passion for the game he himself nurtured in so many young players will not be the legacy he deserves.
Yet despite all the above, and all around the media, and all the lads liking each other on twitter, I would not be as pessimistic about the FAI’s future and its recovery as everyone else seems to be.
I am of the view that it can trade its way out, it has a unique market and they have it all to themselves; they are still capable of earning over 45 million a year just even at a standstill, and they do get so much right outside it’s Blanchardstown Headquarters.
Therefore, I would propose an order seeking to put them into Administration but then, I’m not sure an Independent Board and an Administrator can be secured.
There are too many moving parts, conflicts and personalities in this story; Shane Ross, the Sports Council especially its Chair-for-Hire Mulvey, even John Delaney and UEFA themselves, the Players past present pro, semi-pro or the now pundits, the Fans, the Volunteers, the Clubs the Leagues the Sponsors and the Employees.
Nor can I ignore the reach of Deloitte’s and the Mainstream Media, or the goo-goo eyes of Politicians of every rank and file.
Before I go, if you are wondering why I haven’t gone into the 2018 accounts for ye; well I just didn’t bother. But at least the opening balances are presented with some confidence.
The year was hit with some exceptional one-off charges, such as the costs of the various investigations and John Delaney’s payroll costs, and you’ll see all these including his severance again in 2019.
I am also mindful that its future will be in the hands of a different CEO who will be allowed build their own team, and a Board that will be ideally experienced Independent Directors who will not be recruited from within.
Running the Governing Body of Irish Soccer is an important responsibility, so let’s make sure we get the best people to do it.
The FAI let us down, but they will always have the Irish Support,.
They just need to deserve it.
Vanessa Foran is a principal at Recovery Partners.
Accountant and FAI VP Paul Cooke (left in pics 1 and 2) and FAI President Donal Conway at the Football Association of Ireland Annual accounts publication for 2018 this afternoon.
WATCH: Press conference as the FAI publishes its accounts for 2018, after the loss of main sponsor 3 earlier this week and the announcement today that FAI President Donal Conway is to step down | Read more: https://t.co/FW0tDE2HII https://t.co/9zu5w77wGj
— RTÉ News (@rtenews) December 6, 2019
The FAI published their reports and financial statements for 2017 and 2018.
They have revealed that the organisation has net current liabilities of more than €55million and that former CEO John Delaney agreed a settlement with the organisation of €462,000.
The reports and statements for 2017 and 2018 can be read here
FAI President Donal Conway
Football Association of Ireland tweetz:
Donal Conway is to step down as President of the Football Association of Ireland at an EGM on January 25, 2020…
Former CEO of FAI John Delaney
The FAI has disclosed that the organisation has current net liabilities of more than €55m, following the release of their 2018 accounts.
The association has been in discussions with UEFA as well as their banking partners since the end of 2018 in an effort to provide financial stability within the organisation.
Presenting the 2018 accounts at the FAI headquarters, executive lead Paul Cooke explained how the association came to a severance settlement with former CEO John Delaney, which amounted to 462,000, including a pension payment.
The Football Association of Ireland is expected to publish its accounts for 2018, as well as revised figures for 2017 and 2016.
Details of former CEO John Delaney’s severance package are also expected to be among the figures.
They figures were supposed to be published yesterday but on Wednesday the FAI announced that they’d be published today instead.
Also on Wednesday, mobile phone firm Three announced that it will be ending its partnership with the FAI when their current deal expires next July.
Further to this…
The Irish Independent reports:
Irish football is being told to prepare for a “bomb” when the FAI’s accounts are presented today, with debts of over €50million expected to be revealed.
The association’s former CEO, Bernard O’Byrne, has warned that possible new sponsors will stay away from a “toxic” FAI until more changes are made at board level.
Previously: Three Mobile
FAI press conference pushed back to 1pm now. #FAIaccounts
— Mark Tighe (@marktigheST) December 6, 2019
Three have announced that they will be ending their partnership with the FAI when their current deal expires next July.
“The Board and the commercial team here at the FAI would like to thank Three Chief Executive Robert Finnegan and his colleagues for their support of Irish football,” said FAI President Donal Conway.
“In their ten years as proud backers of Irish football they have been Ireland’s number one supporter and we will always be grateful to them for their financial and personal support.
“We look forward to a successful eight months ahead with Three on board as we countdown to the Euro play-offs in March and the UEFA EURO 2020 games in Dublin next summer.”
Statement released by the Football Association of Ireland this evening after Three Ireland announced it would not be renewing its sponsorship of the FAI when its current deal expires in July 2020.
Thanks Paul Flynn
The Football Association of Ireland writes:
“The Board of the Football Association of Ireland has today begun the process to co-opt members to a number of committees as per the recommendations of the Governance Review Group report.”
The FAI is seeking to co-opt members to committees covering Football Management, Underage and Player Development, International and High Performance, Domestic Competitions and Club and League Development.
Co-leaders of the Social Democrats Róisín Shortall and Catherine Murphy
Politicians are returning to the Dáil after the summer break with Leaders’ Questions set to begin at 2pm.
Meanwhile, on the plinth…
Next up on plinth: @SocDems who are concerned about the DPC report on the public services card, and want more firm guidance from Govt on future of the National Broadband Plan*
— Gavan Reilly (@gavreilly) September 17, 2019
Catherine Murphy says the Joint Oireachtas Committee on transport intends to call Sport Ireland and the FAI back for further hearing in the coming month, on foot of completion of Sport Ireland reports
— Gavan Reilly (@gavreilly) September 17, 2019
Murphy also says there are political consequences for the tech sector if the Government portrays that the findings of the Data Protection Commissioner are dubious and open to challenge
— Gavan Reilly (@gavreilly) September 17, 2019
❌ They promised to abolish USC. Didn’t happen.
❌They promised to increase the entry point to higher rate
of tax to €50K. Didn’t happen.
❌ €2 Billion overspend on NCH & Broadband.
— Fianna Fáil (@fiannafailparty) September 17, 2019
Watch Dáil proceedings live from 2pm here
Pic: Gavan Reilly