Saturday 24 August 2019

Conway hints he may step back from FAI board

FAI president Donal Conway. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
FAI president Donal Conway. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Aidan Fitzmaurice

The FAI appears to be willing to step back from the brink in its stand-off with the Minister for Sport and Sport Ireland as Donal Conway says he will consider not standing for office at next week's AGM.

But the embattled association has again stressed the importance of having its reform process accepted by delegates at an EGM tomorrow. Mr Conway insisted that if the reform proposals were rejected, their 'Plan B' was to carry on work under the existing rules and structures.

"If we don't adopt new rules, our old rules dictate what we can do," he warned. Mr Conway added that bringing in FIFA to take control of the FAI under a "normalisation process" would be a "disaster" for the association.

Sport Ireland said it was "disappointed" to be told at a meeting with the FAI last Friday that Mr Conway would go forward, unopposed, for election at its AGM, claiming that was breaking his promise from April that the entire board would step down.

Sports Minister Shane Ross issued a strongly worded letter to Mr Conway on Monday, calling on him to withdraw his candidacy for the president's role and to allow a complete clearout of the board.

That was backed up by politicians at a joint Oireachtas committee meeting in midweek where committee chair Fergus O'Dowd called for a "clean sweep".

"Our board has to consider all the facts from Wednesday; you can't just disregard what has been said," Mr Conway said of that negative feedback from the Oireachtas hearing.

"I said at the press conference that I was elected for a four-year term but since March there is no such thing as a four-year term, that's gone. So my term as president was going to end in July, and it may still.

"People have asked me what my motivation was considering a role on the interim board. It's simply being pragmatic, there is an awful lot going on in the FAI, two serious investigations, I have been centrally involved across all of them for the last few months so it's a case of what is the most pragmatic thing to do."

Meanwhile, relations between the FAI and the Schoolboys' FAI (SFAI) have been restored just in time for Saturday's crucial EGM.

After an SFAI AGM last night, it said it "has agreed unanimously to accept the new FAI governance reform".

Irish Independent

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