FAI's €50m debt turns up heat on Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane
Euro 2016 qualification now crucial to easing massive financial burden on association
THE importance of Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane guiding Ireland to the Euro 2016 finals has intensified following the revelation that the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) are still €50m in debt even after securing a refinancing writedown deal.
Accounts for year-end 2013, published ahead of the association's annual general meeting in Athlone on July 26, showed that another €5m was shelled out for charges related to the borrowings on their portion of the Lansdowne Road stadium redevelopment project.
With overall turnover falling again to €36.7m, representing a 19pc drop over a two-year cycle, the pressure on O'Neill and Keane to qualify from a tricky qualification group for the showpiece in two years' time has increased.
Ireland begin their trail towards the France-hosted finals in September aiming not only for qualification but also a similar bonus to the €8m Giovanni Trapattoni earned the FAI by reaching the last tournament in 2012.
Burdened with heavy interest payments until 2020 and most likely beyond, it will also require rocketing ticket revenue through the return of full houses to Lansdowne Road for the game in Ireland as a whole to escape the financial constraints weighing it down.
The claim made by FAI chief executive John Delaney in February that his long-held debt-free prediction of 2020 could be revised following the deal is given credence in the accounts.
According to a new section from last year in the analysis of net debt, entitled 'amount due after five years', the FAI will still owe €25.5m heading into 2019.
Although, like last year, the FAI reported a surplus, this time €8.9m, grants to affiliates repeated the trend of turnover with a reduction to €1.12m from €1.36m.
Confirmation of Delaney's 10pc pay cut in 2012 was illustrated by the chief executive earning €360,000 over the 12 months. Overall, salary costs were down from €10.64m to €9.55m, including €1.13m for redundancy and payroll restructuring costs which may encompass a payment to Trapattoni arising from his sacking in October.