Sunday 22 September 2019

'Toxic' FAI brand must change, Shamrock Rovers tells ministers

faith: Shamrock Rovers fans during a Europa League clash. The club’s board has written to sports minister Shane Ross.
faith: Shamrock Rovers fans during a Europa League clash. The club’s board has written to sports minister Shane Ross.
Wayne O'Connor

Wayne O'Connor

One of the country's biggest football clubs has told the Government that the FAI's "toxic" brand and corporate governance issues must be addressed to restore public faith in Irish football.

Shamrock Rovers have written to sports minister Shane Ross and junior minister Brendan Griffin calling for a review of the FAI's structures "at a low point in the existence" of the embattled association.

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The club also called for the entire FAI board to step down. The letter was sent to the ministers before the association's recent AGM. FAI president Donal Conway was re-elected at that meeting last month.

It is the first time that one of the country's elite clubs has formally outlined its position on a spate of recent FAI controversies to the Government.

In the letter, obtained by the Sunday Independent under Freedom of Information, Shamrock Rovers called for a new culture of governance and "a step-change in attitude by the FAI".

"A culture of governance must be what develops from this low point in the existence of the FAI," the club told the two ministers.

"This is a real opportunity for the association to become a beacon in Irish sport that is participatory, consensus oriented, accountable, transparent, responsive, effective and efficient, equitable and inclusive, and follows the rule of law."

The club echoed the views of Mr Ross in calling for the entire FAI board to stand down and not seek re-election. Mr Ross had asked Mr Conway to withdraw his nomination for president at last month's AGM.

The letter was sent on behalf of the club's board members in response to a request for submissions to the Irish Football Stakeholder Forum, which was held in May to examine the future of the sport here.

"To have any chance of restoring public faith in football, this is necessary. The brand FAI is toxic at present and an overhaul is needed," Rovers said.

The club also recommended building the FAI board around the association's key areas of business and support "a viable football industry in this country".

"A business or professional background, as well as an involvement in football, would be desirable," Rovers' letter added.

"Broad representation is encouraged. However, the person appointed to be the representative should have the background that demonstrates them to be a most able candidate."

Sunday Independent

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