A new major development has occurred in the FAI saga. Earlier this week, news broke that Sport Ireland has referred the final report of the Independent Audit of the FAI to the gardaí. This was after the final report had been received by Sports Minister Shane Ross. The firm KOSI Corporation Ltd based in Northern Ireland sent on the final Audit to Sports Ireland. This audit was commissioned by Sport Ireland after the controversy regarding the FAI’s finances and their former chief executive, John Delaney. This report was due to be delivered in October but was delayed after the resignation of Mr Delaney who was at the time FAI Executive Vice President.
Minister Ross has said he is not in the position to release the report due to legal advice. The legal advice, Mr Ross wrote, highlighted “the importance of natural justice in respect of all individuals referenced in the report”. Minister Ross’s department confirmed “he will not be in a position to publish the report or make any comments on its findings at this time”. Mr Ross also admitted that he wants “to see it published at the earliest possible date” but he “cannot see it being published if it’s going to prejudice any Gardaí investigation”.
A meeting was summoned by the Sport Ireland Audit Committee on Wednesday morning and it was decided that the FAI report was to be sent to the gardaí after confirming with the Sport Ireland board. Fergus O’Dowd, Chair of the Sport Committee, welcomed the fact that the report had been given to the gardaí for examination but “after that the audit must be published in full and unredacted”. Mr O’Dowd has expressed the importance of finding out what has happened to the €50 million of public funds that has gone towards the FAI since 2008 and therefore try and restore confidence in the association.
Last month, FAI President Donal Conway also voiced his concerns over the controversy surrounding the association and fears it will get worse before it gets better. He claimed “there are some tough days ahead of us” but wanted to be “more forward looking” when all is revealed. Vice President Paul Cooke admitted that the audit “won’t be pretty and will shock people”. Details of John Delaney’s severance package, which is believed to be around €350,000, will be revealed after the gardaí examine the audit and is allowed to go public . Cooke was asked back in October if it was the FAI or UEFA who paid Delaney off after his resignation. His response was “it all comes from the same pot. UEFA didn’t write a cheque to us to pay John Delaney”. He admitted the state of the association’s finances makes for grim reading as the figures are “not pretty”.
In the last few days Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has also expressed his concerns about the FAI audit . The Taoiseach insists the report should be made public. He said “you know huge numbers of people in Ireland are football fans and contribute a lot to the FAI in different ways, either financially or as volunteers. So I think the public should see it as soon as possible”.
Sport Ireland has yet to send the final Audit to the FAI. In a statement, the FAI said its board noted the contents of Mr Ross’s statement and insisted they will co-operate fully with any gardaí investigation. The FAI stand by their claim that “all Government money allocated to the FAI by Sport Ireland was spent appropriately and as intended”. They stated that “the Board of the FAI and FAI staff are already co-operating fully with the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement in its enquiry into the FAI”.