Saturday 3 December 2016

New figures reveal FAI debt down to €40m

John Fallon

Published 12/07/2016 | 02:30

FAI chief John Delaney. Photo: Sportsfile
FAI chief John Delaney. Photo: Sportsfile

Reaching Euro 2016 represented a financial boost for the FAI in 2015 but qualification for France also resulted in a surge of 30 per cent in staff costs, according to end-of-year accounts.

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Although chief executive John Delaney and president Tony Fitzgerald were yesterday able to issue better financial tidings than previous years to delegates, with turnover rising to €46m, mystery remains over an extra €2.6m outlay from 2014 in wages and salaries.

The FAI have in recent years prioritised cost control as debts spiked amid the failed premium ticket scheme designed to fund their €72m portion of the Lansdowne Road redevelopment costs.

Since borrowings began to accumulate in 2010, League of Ireland prize-money was slashed, some high-profile personalities such technical director Packie Bonner were made redundant while remaining employees saw their pay packets cut.

Only last week, SIPTU vowed to escalate their claims for restoration of those income losses to employees such as grassroots development officers through the state disputes arm of the Workers Relations Committee (WRC).

Read more: FAI staff want a cut of Euro success to restore pay

Qualification for the Euros was secured in November and the FAI last night remained tight-lipped on whether a proportion of those costs were directed to the management duo of Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane, or players, in the form of bonuses.

A cover note to the accounts co-signed by Delaney and Fitzgerald references the "exceptional costs", though no such hike was apparent in the 2012 financial statements when Ireland also qualified. In fact, staff costs dropped by almost 20 per cent that year.

"The exceptional costs associated with Euro 2016 qualification were accrued and accounted for in total staff costs," explained the duo.

"Countering these costs relating to Euro 2016, revenues also increased due to the awarding of the prize fund from UEFA, between qualification and participation."

The FAI continue to insist they are capable of being debt-free by 2020 despite confirming their borrowings currently stand at €40m.

That figure is down by €10m from the sum in the year-end accounts, attributable to the latest refinancing deal announced on the eve of the European Championships.

Servicing

To date, including the €5.2m shelled out in 2015, total costs in servicing the debt over a five-year period have risen to €27m.

It must therefore be welcomed that the new arrangement involves an interest rate lower than that with the previous borrower, Corporate Capital Trust (CCT), who had acquired the loan from Danske Bank in 2011.

"The Board of the FAI and I would like to pay tribute to Denis O'Brien and his advisory support through Island Capital Ltd to achieve this positive outcome for Irish football," added Delaney, now 11 years in the post.

The Waterford man and Fitzgerald added in their statement last night: "Approved financial measures have reduced the overall FAI capital debt to €40m. In addition, an interest rate reduction from the previous loan arrangement has been negotiated resulting in major savings on an annual basis…allowing further improvement in future financial stability that will prove vital in the continued aim of the FAI to eradicate all debt by 2020."

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Reporting a surplus of €5.8m before an increased grant figure of €2m was distributed, the string of home qualifiers during 2015 against Poland, Scotland, Germany, Georgia and Bosnia-Herzegovina accounted for the jolt in revenue.

This year is unlikely to bank gate receipts of similar scale as only one competitive game, the World Cup qualifier with Georgia in October, is scheduled for Dublin.

The FAI were unavailable for comment last night.

Irish Independent

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