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Thursday 22 August 2019

'Something is rotten in the state of the FAI' - players' body hits out

Oireachtas committee appearance: John Delaney leaves Leinster House. PHOTO: COLIN O’RIORDAN
Oireachtas committee appearance: John Delaney leaves Leinster House. PHOTO: COLIN O’RIORDAN

Daniel McDonnell and Shane Phelan

The management committee of the Professional Footballers Association of Ireland (PFAI) believes there is "something rotten in the state of the FAI".

It released a strongly worded statement as pressure mounted on the FAI after Wednesday's appearance in front of the Oireachtas Committee on Sport.

PFAI's committee is headed up by Dundalk goalkeeper Gary Rogers, and includes 100-times capped Republic of Ireland women's team striker Áine O'Gorman.

The PFAI's relationship with the FAI has been fractious in recent years and it was involved in the dispute around conditions for the women's side. In its statement, the PFAI committee said it has watched the fallout around examination of the FAI with 'dismay'.

"It is clear that the finances of the FAI need to be forensically examined and governance overhauled," it said.

"Deputy Ruth Coppinger said yesterday that the hearing was 'like Hamlet without the prince'. To continue the analogy, something is rotten in the state of the FAI."

Mr Rogers described the performance of the FAI delegation as a 'new low for Irish football' and criticised the absence of a former player on the FAI board.

He raised the issue of low League of Ireland prize money and called for 'root-and-branch reform' with the league central to a new direction.

The PFAI statement followed on from a missive from the Leinster Senior League to ask member clubs if they felt the FAI board should step down.

The FAI's main sponsor, Three Ireland, said that it expected the football body would implement all recommendations from the investigations into financial and corporate governance issues.

"Corporate governance is of utmost importance at Three and we expect the same from all partners we work with," it said.

Ireland's official kit provider, Toplion Sportswear and JACC Sports, echoed those sentiments.

Meanwhile, it has also emerged that the corporate watchdog is examining a transcript of the appearance by FAI officials.

During the hearing, former FAI CEO John Delaney refused to answer questions about a €100,000 "bridging loan" he advanced to the association when it was experiencing cash-flow problems in April 2017.

The ODCE has been examining the issue since last month.

Irish Independent

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