Sport Soccer

Friday 24 March 2017

FAI Statement

A large amount has been written since Friday about the FAI's position in relation to friendly matches and in the interests of clarity, the Association wishes to confirm the following:

1 The sole objective of the FAI is to develop, promote and foster the game in Ireland. Any commercial venture entered into by the FAI is designed purely to fund the development of the game at all levels throughout the country. This includes the Airtricity League, which is funded by the tune of €5m per annum for the benefit of all clubs. Any suggestion that our decision was made for reasons other than the good of game is simply untrue.

2 Unlike commercial agents, the FAI is not in the business of profiteering from such games. Any profit the FAI does generate is delivered straight back into the development of the game. One of the reasons why we have entered into an arrangement with a commercial partner in relation to friendly games is to protect and maximise the value of our rights, to benefit the game as a whole. If games were to be organised outside of this arrangement, profit made by any agent would be lost to the game. For example, with one club the Association had agreed a price for a visit, only for an agency in Ireland to offer double the amount. This is inflationary and not in the interests of football since any profit generated by that agent would not be reinvested in the game.

3Limerick FC are portraying as a certainty that with FAI permission the game would come to Limerick. We are aware that even with FAI permission (which in any case, we are unable to grant), FC Barcelona have not made any decision to come to Limerick. We have spoken to high-level officials at the club who have confirmed this and we are also know that international match agents are offering FC Barcelona to other clubs in other countries on the same date, July 31.

4The FAI has already made clear the reasons why it did not grant permission to Limerick FC to play Barcelona on July 31 because a) the Association has third-party commercial agreements which prevent it from granting the game in stadiums with a capacity in excess of 15,000 and b) the FAI is in negotiations with FC Barcelona itself in relation to a visit to Aviva Stadium and c) because the Association is obliged to retain ownership of the July 31 date because of Airtricity League fixtures. Limerick FC were aware of all of the above prior to making their announcement on Thursday evening.

5 Under FIFA rules, FAI rules and under the participation agreement which all clubs signed, no club can arrange any match without the prior consent of the national governing body. The clubs were reminded of this in writing in May last year.

6 Under the participation agreement which all clubs signed, the FAI is entitled to enter any commercial agreements which it sees beneficial to the game. The game Limerick FC have referred to would benefit just one club. The FAI is obliged to operate in the interests of the Airtricity League as a whole.

7 Since the sponsorship revenues from the League do not come close to covering the €5m pa it costs the FAI to run it, revenues from international matches and club friendly games (eg, Airtricity League XI v Manchester United) are used by the FAI to fund the running of it.

8It has been suggested that the FAI is not happy to grant friendly games to Airtricity League clubs. This is not true. In recent times alone, we have granted permission to Celtic, Newcastle, Liverpool, Wolves, Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid, Hull City and Ipswich Town to play Airtricity League clubs and we will continue to do so.

9It was suggested in one newspaper that the FAI declined a request from Bohemian FC to play FC Barcelona. This is not true and the club have confirmed that.

10 The manager of Bohemian FC stated in yesterday's newspapers that if they were to be drawn for a Champions League game on August 4, they would play it regardless. The FAI have already met with Bohemian FC and the other clubs in European competition two weeks ago and at this meeting we explained that if there were two Dublin clubs in European competition on that week, then one game would take place on August 3 and the other on August 5.

Irish Independent

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