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Football family will soon have to learn there is no such thing as a free lunch



Stock photo

Stock photo

Stock photo

A lunchtime deal has secured the survival of the FAI. But the footsoldiers of the association are about to discover there is no such thing as a free lunch, and the rescue package (it's not a bailout, Sports Minister Shane Ross insists) with an overall value of €30m in State funding comes at a cost.

And the conditions attached to the deal, if implemented, will give birth to a further clear-out of the FAI at council level and also reshape its board of directors. Again.

The Troika's bailout of the State a decade ago contained conditions which handed over sovereignty over the State's finances.

The FAI's own bailout has also taken an axe to independence. And not all elements in this deal will be welcomed by football's officialdom; it would sweep out what's generally called the old guard.

By accepting the package from the Department of Sport, the FAI will be obliged to review its constitution by mid-2021.

That review, which involves several rule changes, would bar former FAI board members from joining committees in the new structure: one former director, John Earley, is currently sitting on an FAI committee. It has "a view to retiring council members with greater than 10 years' service".

Gerry McAnaney, only last week elected as the new FAI president, has been on the council for 20 years.

A stipulation that €800,000 of the State funding to the FAI, which has been doubled to €5.8m annually, be set aside for the League of Ireland and Women's National League will cause angst among those who feel the League of Ireland already gets too much time, money and attention.

Upping the number of independent directors from four to six will cost two of the current board their seats. Meeting a target of having 40pc female representation at board and council level by 2023 will be a battle.

But making those changes is not something the FAI board will consider. It has to implement them. "The alternative was doomsday," was the view of Niall Quinn, newly installed as interim deputy CEO.

Irish Independent