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Basketball Ireland seek €1.5m boost after FAI 'get-out-of-jail-free card'

O'Byrne says pain felt by his sport 'drastically unfair' after Irish football nets €19m from State

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Basketball Ireland chief Bernard O’Byrne feels his sport has earned the right to look for €1.5m in Government support after the FAI landed €19m to “get out of jail free”. Stock image

Basketball Ireland chief Bernard O’Byrne feels his sport has earned the right to look for €1.5m in Government support after the FAI landed €19m to “get out of jail free”. Stock image

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Basketball Ireland chief Bernard O’Byrne feels his sport has earned the right to look for €1.5m in Government support after the FAI landed €19m to “get out of jail free”. Stock image

Basketball Ireland chief Bernard O'Byrne feels his sport has earned the right to look for €1.5m in Government support after the FAI landed €19m to "get out of jail free".

O'Byrne - a former FAI CEO - believes it is "drastically unfair" that basketball had to get back on its own two feet after suffering a financial crisis in 2008 while the State has provided the bulk of the €30m deal to secure Irish football's future.

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Basketball authorities feel double standards are at play as they had to cut staff and halt international team programmes in their time of need, in addition to accepting a five-year ban from the Sports Capital Programme when it later transpired a grant wasn't used properly.

O'Byrne says Ministers Shane Ross and Brendan Griffin have declined to meet with him for 18 months, and the emergency deal with the FAI had stirred his board into action again.

He believes it's wrong that players on their eight international teams still have to fundraise to pay the bulk of their costs and then read about the cost of the FAI survival plan.

O'Byrne is looking for €1m over three years to cover that expense and the restoration of a €500k grant to improve the national stadium.

"Sport Ireland have told us they hold us up as a good example to other national governing bodies but it doesn't translate to funding," said O'Byrne. "The basketball community was put through pain.

"For bigger sins, the FAI has been given this get-out-of-jail-free card."

The FAI have justified their deal by arguing that Euro 2020 will generate at least €30m for the country.

O'Byrne believes it would be a goodwill gesture if any funds that go to the State are used to reward other sports.

He says two political parties have promised a post-election meeting.

Irish Independent