Tuesday 21 August 2018

Athletics: Sparks to fly at AAI Congress as huge legal costs revealed

Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

ATHLETICS Ireland (AAI) overspent by almost €400,000 last year -- most of it because of legal bills, which will haunt the association for the next two years, according to a top official.

Sparks will inevitably fly at AAI's biennial Congress in Sligo this weekend, not least when the full cost of months of in-fighting and legal wrangling is revealed to have been €382,651.

The report of the outgoing chairman of the Finance and Risk Committee, Gerry Giblin, notes that "these costs incurred, as a result of the termination of the previous CEO's employment, have created a very difficult budgetary situation for 2010 and 2011, as the settlement and legal payments will be made this year and next."

This finally reveals to club members the actual cost to their sport of the High Court case which ex-CEO Mary Coghlan successfully took against the AAI and the Sports Council after her dismissal.

Delegates will hear that its own finance committee wrote to the AAI Board last April, when legal costs had already reached €105,000, warning them of the potential consequences of the dispute and suggesting they set up an alternative arbitration process.

Giblin's report includes this letter with portions of it blacked out on legal advice.

The association's legal fees last year were almost €66,000 more than their combined spend on coaching (€109,314) and competition (€207,968).

Such revelations will inevitably spark lively debate, and the report of Paddy Fay, outgoing chairman of the Coaching and Development Committee, will surely add to it.

Fay criticised the outgoing High Performance Committee and its chairman Patsy McGonagle, whose practices, he alleges, completely undermined his own committee's work.

"This was my first involvement in the politics of sport. My exper-ience has shocked me," Fay says.

Given the recent turbulence, there will be battles for many of the association's key positions, including the challenge to current AAI president Liam Hennessy by former president Michael Heery.

Maeve Kyle and Ray Flynn are the two nominees for chairman of the High Performance Committee.

Irish Independent

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