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Friday 18 October 2019

Desmond and McManus offer help to the FAI as talks continue over crisis

Dermot Desmond: Billionaire financier has contacted the FAI’s interim boss. Photo: Laura Hutton/
Dermot Desmond: Billionaire financier has contacted the FAI’s interim boss. Photo: Laura Hutton/
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Dermot Desmond and JP McManus have made enquiries to see if they can help Irish football through its crisis.

It is understood that billionaire financier Mr Desmond has made contact with interim FAI boss Noel Mooney in the past week to see if he can be of assistance.

Sources say Mr Desmond has also spoken with Niall Quinn about the former Ireland striker's plans for reform.

Businessman and racehorse owner Mr McManus gave the GAA a €3.2m donation off the back of Limerick's All-Ireland hurling win last September. Mr McManus has also assisted Limerick FC in recent years.

It is believed that a Limerick connection through Mr Mooney, who is from Cappamore, has led to some informal contact but the extent of his interest is unclear.

Mr Desmond has shown interest in Irish football already this year after entering discussions with Shamrock Rovers to take a 25pc stake in the League of Ireland club. That deal remains on track.

The FAI's cashflow issues have left them reliant on the support of Uefa, with its finance director due in Dublin next month to survey the extent of the problems which were highlighted by the emergence of ex-CEO John Delaney's bridging loan to the association in 2017.

Six different investigations are ongoing, with a substantial legal bill set to the exceed €1m. Uefa will be propping the FAI up to ensure it meets its financial obligations with a 'safety net' of €10m available.

It sent Mr Mooney on a six-month secondment to oversee operations.

A Governance Review Group established between the FAI and Sport Ireland is working to draft a new board structure.

Mr Quinn has entered the equation by assembling a group of businesspeople who are close to releasing a 30-page plan.

They initially came together to try and overhaul the League of Ireland but the recent crisis has broadened the scope.

Their paper now analyses the strategic, commercial, operational and governance structures of the FAI.

Ex-footballer Kieran Foley, a big player in the establishment of the Caribbean Cricket League, spoke last week about his role in the group.

The Irish Independent has learned that Roy Barrett, the managing director of Goodbody Stockbrokers, and sports lawyer Barry Lysaght, a senior legal counsel with Fifa, are also in Mr Quinn's team.

Mr Mooney is set to meet Mr Quinn in the coming weeks. Sports Minister Shane Ross has invited FAI staff and members of Mr Quinn's group to a stakeholders forum in Dublin on Friday.

Irish Independent

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