Saturday 24 March 2018

FAI bail out Bohs

Emails reveal struggling club received €100,000 'advance' on UEFA money

Photo: Patrick Bolger, Getty Images
Photo: Patrick Bolger, Getty Images

Neil Ahern

THE FAI bailed out Bohemians to the tune of €100,000 earlier this season as the 2008 double-winners struggled to pay their wage bill.

Documents, seen exclusively by the Irish Independent, reveal that the FAI gave Bohs a €100,000 'advance' on money due to them next month from UEFA on foot of their participation in this season's Champions League.

According to one Bohemians director, the money received "was secured against UEFA money" as it was "a way around the FAI not being seen to support operations."

The transaction took place in July.

The Irish Independent has seen three email conversations on the matter. Two of them are between Bohemians chairman Robert Dunne and a former board member, while the third involves current Finance Director Chris Brien and the same former board member.


All three email conversations occurred at a time when the Phibsborough outfit were doing the country proud on the pitch, top of the league and preparing for a Champions League clash with Red Bull Salzburg.

Things, however, were not so positive off the field. The club were having trouble paying their wages, while a transfer ban had been imposed as a sanction for operating outside of the league's 65pc Salary Cost Protocol.

In his emails, the former board member expresses his doubts to the chairman and finance director over the club's financial situation and poses a series of questions. All of the emails make reference to the receipt of money from the FAI in order to help the club, with one, dated July 13, directly referring to the figure of €100,000.

The former board member in question asks: "Where in the accounts is the €100k from the FAI is going to go?"

Brien responds: "It won't be in the accounts. They (the FAI) will be paid back from the UEFA monies."

Eleven days later, the former board member poses a similar question to chairman Dunne, saying: "The FAI money. I am very unhappy with this. Over a phone call, this decision was discussed. I imagined we would further discuss this when we met, as in what exactly the money was for.

"It transpires the money is already spent and, although you said we'd make payments in stages to the FAI, they are simply taking it back when we get the UEFA money."

Dunne, in response, says: "The money advanced was secured against UEFA money. It is a way around the FAI not being seen to support operations. What did you want Chris to do?"

Bohs were facing problems weeks before they got the bail-out -- as can be seen from the contents of an earlier, email, dated June 9, in which club chairman Dunne reveals the depths of the Bohs' problems.

He says: "Chris has clearly outlined the financial difficulties we face, especially in the short term -- we cannot pay the wages this week without an overdraft facility from AIB and/or a loan from FAI."

Ireland's domestic league has endured a torrid 2009, with Cork City coming within minutes of extinction in the High Court in July before a last minute deal with the Revenue Commissioners saved them, while Derry City, Dundalk and Galway United have also experienced financial difficulties.

The FAI have stated on the record that they would resist in helping clubs pay day-to-day bills such as wages.

Internal Compliance Officer Padraig Smith insisted in an online Q&A last March that "the FAI has not and will not provide financial assistance to clubs to fund their operational costs".

An FAI official last night said: "We've given Bohemians an advance on guaranteed UEFA monies and this is standard European practice."

The official claimed that that other clubs had been given advances of money due for participation in Europe, but declined to name any.

A Bohemians board member declined to comment when contacted last night, saying that an official statment would be made by the PRO, who was unavailable when efforts were made to contact him.

Irish Independent

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