Sunday 11 December 2016

Irish Sports Council issues plea to IABA to strike deal with Billy Walsh

Published 28/08/2015 | 17:49

Ireland's head coach Billy Walsh
Ireland's head coach Billy Walsh

The Irish Sports Council has released a statement clarifying their stance on Billy Walsh, insisting that they will try and keep the successful boxing coach in Ireland.

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As revealed by the Irish Independent yesterday, Walsh is set to take up a job offer in the United States after talks between himself and the Sports Council broke down.

The Irish Sports Council believed that a package had been agreed with the Irish Amateur Boxing Association last weekend to keep Walsh at home and that that package would be brought for ratification to Tuesday night's IABA board meeting.

This did not happen, however, after the association indicated via email on Tuesday that they had changed their stance on virtually every detail of the package.

The Irish Sports Council released the following statement this evening:

"The Irish Sports Council (ISC) is disappointed that an agreement has not been reached between Billy Walsh and the Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA) in relation to the role of Head Coach of the High Performance Unit. 

"Billy Walsh has been instrumental in the sustained success of Irish Boxing and was fundamental in the development of the High Performance Systems that continues to achieve on the World, Olympic and European stage.

"Since February, the ISC has been aware that Billy had received an offer internationally. From the outset, the ISC, made it clear that it wanted to retain Billy Walsh and was available to provide whatever support was required.  That said the ISC however recognises that it is a matter for the IABA to resolve.

"Following a series of talks the ISC presented a proposal which addressed the needs and concerns of all parties.  The proposal was to be brought to the board of the IABA on 25 August.  On the 25 August the ISC was informed that the proposal would not be presented to the board and that a sub-committee was suggesting a new version that was substantially different to the original proposal.  In effect this unilateral action ended the ISC’s initiative. It is not aware of any progress over the past few days.  It has advised the IABA to act quickly and to revert to the original proposal if the situation is to be resolved."

Kieran Mulvey, Chairman of the Irish Sports Council said: “The ISC has been clear and unambiguous in its desire to keep Billy Walsh in Irish sport. We communicated clearly to the IABA that we would provide whatever support is necessary to retain Billy. It was our understanding that a framework and agreement had been reached by all parties. The ISC were surprised and extremely disappointed that the proposal  was not presented to the IABA board. We urge the IABA to act quickly and decisively in the matter”.

As of close of business, Friday 28 August the ISC have received no further correspondence from the IABA.

 

Walsh has previously been head-hunted by the Australian and English federations, but stayed at home to build the Irish model into one of the most respected in amateur boxing.

It is understood that as far back as October, the US sent a delegation to Dublin in a bid to sign him up and, during his Christmas holidays, Walsh took up the offer to go and view their set-up over four days in Colorado Springs.

He was then made an offer dwarfing his current salary in a package that included pension and health insurance, neither of which he gets from the IABA.

In February, he made the association aware of that offer and indicated certain changes he felt needed to be made to the circumstances in which Irish boxing's High Performance Programme was run.

Fundamental to this was bringing an end to the seemingly endless struggle for autonomy.

Walsh has always sought the right, as head of the programme, to pick Irish teams for competition rather than have selections imposed upon him by committee.

It is understod that the issues most pressing to him were not related to money.

Yet, every single one of his requests was flatly rejected.

The Sports Council reacted with horror to news of the imminent loss to the sport of a man who, having competed at the Seoul Olympics himself, has now worked the corner for seven Olympic medallists as well as multiples of medal winners at European and World Championships level.

Just two weeks ago, Ireland brought two golds and a bronze home from the European Championships in Bulgaria, the latter secured by Walsh's own nephew, Dean.

The ISC, desperate to keep Walsh at home, last weekend made clear their willingness to fund any new salary for the Irish coach, as well as whatever knock-on increases it might require for other people in the programme.

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