Is the FAI in Danger of Liquidation?

2019 has been a tumultuous year for the FAI.

Difficulties within the association have emerged since the departure of former chief executive and executive vice president John Delaney earlier this year.

The latest has seen the FAI request for an €18 million bailout rejected by the Government, which was confirmed by Minister for Sport, Shane Ross TD.

The FAI have liabilities of €62 million and the implications of liquidation of the association are currently being examined.

At an Oireachtas Sport Committee hearing, Mr. Ross said that taxpayers money would not be used to bail out the foundering football association.

He also said that the winding up of the FAI could have implications for the future of the League of Ireland and would raise huge concerns for the future of football in the country from grassroots right to the very top levels.

A number of different options of financial support were looked at by the football association including a guarantee of its bank debts.

As well as the possible problems the liquidation of the FAI would cause to the future of League of Ireland, there is also concern over the implications of liquidation over the Republic of Ireland’s international fixtures.

2019 has been a tumultuous year for the FAI.

Difficulties within the association have emerged since the departure of former chief executive and executive vice president John Delaney earlier this year.

Mr. Delaney left the association following the revelation that he had given the FAI a temporary bridging loan of €100,000 in 2017.

The latest has seen the FAI request for an €18 million bailout rejected by the Government, which was confirmed by Minister for Sport, Shane Ross TD.

The FAI have liabilities of €62 million and the implications of liquidation of the association are currently being examined.

At an Oireachtas Sport Committee hearing, Minister Ross said that taxpayers money would not be used to bail out the foundering football association.

He also said that the winding up of the FAI could have implications for the future of the League of Ireland and would raise huge concerns for the future of football in the country from grassroots right to the very top levels.

A number of different options of financial support were looked at by the football association including a guarantee of its bank debts.

As well as the possible problems the liquidation of the FAI would cause to the future of League of Ireland, there is also concern over the implications of liquidation over the Republic of Ireland’s international fixtures.

In the event of liquidation, the FAI’s membership of UEFA would end under the European governing body’s statutes. This would also end the participation of League of Ireland teams in European competitions and the International team would not qualify to take part in UEFA competitions.

According to Minister Ross, Kosi, an auditing firm, carried out a forensic audit of the FAI and had found the association was not fit to handle public funds.

The firm did acknowledge that there had been steps taken by the FAI to address the failing in the organisation but there was a quite a way to go before the funding could be reinstated.

He also said that his department had identified a way to supply funding to the grassroots level.

Salaries for the regional development officers would be paid through a payroll services firm which would be able to begin in January and continue for the rest of 2020 if required.

“Grassroots football must not suffer because of mistakes made at the top of the greasy pole,” he said.

A scheme has also been setup to continue to support the women’s national team.

Department for Sport officials have also been in contact with UEFA in order to set up a meeting to discuss the future of the FAI which is hoped to take place sometime in early January.

The FAI also raised concerns over the potential risk to games which are due to take place in Dublin during Euro 2020 but there has been no indication if funding from UEFA to the FAI had been withheld or delayed.

What the future hold for the FAI is still unclear. Mentions of splitting the association into multiple organisations like grassroot/senior etc have been talked about but the validity of these ideas would need to be scrutinised to find out how beneficial they would be. Or even if UEFA would allow such a thing to happen. 

As it stands, the FAI is not in a fit functioning state.

Minister Ross wants independent directors to take the organisation forward, but it has been a cause of frustration that no appointments have yet been made.

There have been no explanations as to why they appointments have not been made, but they are expected to take place in the near future, according to Minister Ross.

Twice, the FAI has been invited to attend an Oireachtas committee meeting and twice it has declined the invitation, stressing it was more important for it to sort out its governance and financial issue.

Minister Ross has said that no money will go to the FAI until all these issues are addressed.

What is known is that the FAI as it is can be no more. The future of the association, the governance and financial capability has to change in order for it to survive. And with the consequences for everybody involved in the FAI from grassroots right to the very top, the need is dire to get it sorted out quickly.

As well as the possible problems the liquidation of the FAI would cause to the future of League of Ireland, there is also concern over the implications of liquidation over the Republic of Ireland’s international fixtures.

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