Tuesday 28 January 2020

Auditors quit after being 'misled' over FAI scandal

Football Association of Ireland offices in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Football Association of Ireland offices in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Shawn Pogatchnik

Deloitte has resigned as external auditor to the FAI after concluding it was "misled", the accountancy firm has confirmed in a filing with the Companies Registration Office (CRO).

The move follows months of accounting scandals at soccer's governing body involving the departure of long-time FAI leaders.

The football organisation says it has liabilities of €70m and could face financial collapse without an emergency Government cash injection.

Deloitte Ireland notified the FAI of its resignation from the role in a brief letter dated Wednesday, January 8, and received by the CRO the following day.

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In April 2019, Deloitte had reported the FAI to authorities for failing to keep proper accounting records - a potential criminal offence. The global firm had been the FAI's auditor for the past 23 years.

Deloitte's specific filing in relation to the FAI said the body had contravened Sections 281 and 282 of the Companies Act 2014, which set out the rules governing how companies must maintain adequate accounting records.

Senior Deloitte officials told delegates at the FAI's annual general meeting last month: "Information was not provided to us and in our opinion we were misled."

"We now know that contracts were withheld from us and in our opinion the FAI failed to maintain accurate books of account," the Deloitte officials said in a statement.

The official exit of Deloitte as external auditor was believed to have been recognised at the FAI's board meeting last week, when the body appointed Goodbody Stockbrokers managing director Roy Barrett as its new chairman. The FAI is still searching for a new chief executive following John Delaney's resignation last year.

Two other independent directors were appointed: Central Bank human resources director Liz Joyce and Catherine Guy, the CEO of Sixt Leasing and a former managing partner of law firm ByrneWallace.

Mr Barrett is due to officially take over as FAI chairman later this month as the body's president, Donal Conway, steps down.

FAI board members are hopeful Mr Barrett's financial background will help the FAI secure a rescue package in discussions this week with Government officials.

Sports Minister Shane Ross and a delegation from the Department of Sport are due to meet officials from European soccer governing body Uefa tomorrow in attempts to find a financial and regulatory path forward for the FAI.

Government grants of around €2.9m per year to the FAI have been suspended since April.

Irish Independent

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