Cork City FC owner loses bid to lift ban
Published 28/01/2010 | 05:00
THE owner of Cork City FC has lost his High Court challenge to a 12-month football ban for bringing the game into disrepute.
Tom Coughlan brought judicial review proceedings aimed at quashing an FAI disciplinary committee finding of December 17 last, banning him from football-related activities and also fining him €5,000.
Mr Justice John Hedigan yesterday dismissed the action after ruling that the FAI, as a private sporting organisation, is not subject to judicial review.
The judge said the action was the "latest episode" of what has been "the sad saga of Cork City's financial difficulties".
He said sporting disputes were "best resolved through their own governing bodies" and such matters should only come before the courts of law "as a last resort in the rarest of cases".
The judge said that as owner of the club, Mr Coughlan was fully aware of his relationship with the FAI and bound to its rules. Those rules include a prohibition on bringing football-related disputes through the courts.
While not being amenable to judicial review alone was sufficient grounds to warrant a dismissal of the application, the judge further held that the FAI committee had not acted unfairly or in breach of fair procedure by refusing to grant Mr Coughlan's request to adjourn the December 17 meeting.
The judge also noted Mr Coughlan had not availed of an extensive appeal process set down within the FAI's rules.
It was alleged by the FAI that Mr Coughlan, of Summerville, Eglantine Park, Douglas, Cork, failed to pay employees on time and to meet his obligations to Revenue.
He also allegedly failed to pay insurance premiums on time, failed to pay the ESB resulting in supply being cut off, bounced cheques to referees and Revenue, and failed to pay transport costs as well as being involved in two high profile winding-up proceedings.
He claimed he was denied fair procedure by the FAI disciplinary committee's refusal to adjourn the December 17 disciplinary meeting at its Abbottstown, Dublin, headquarters.
The FAI had opposed Mr Coughlan's action and had denied any breach of fair procedure.