Wednesday 22 May 2019

FAI Board changes on way in bid to quell anger as protests continue

Deeply critical: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: PA
Deeply critical: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: PA

Aidan Fitzmaurice

The FAI are poised to make some changes to their board this weekend in a bid to quell the anger within sections of the game, and among their sponsors, over the association's calamitous performance at an Oireachtas committee this week.

But with former CEO John Delaney insistent on staying in his role as Executive Vice President, despite criticism of him voiced last night by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar - and in spite of calls for Delaney to vacate all roles with the FAI - supporters are planning to step up their protests.

The FAI have been bruised by the extent of criticism in the wake of Wednesday's shambolic display, and it's expected that at least two changes to the board will be made over the weekend.

There is, however, no suggestion that Delaney will be forced to leave his €120,000 a year role as Executive Vice President.

There were plenty of signs of fan anger from within the League of Ireland last night. There was a vocal protest from Sligo Rovers supporters at their game at home to Dundalk, while some Cork City fans boycotted the Joe Delaney Stand, named in honour of the ex-CEO's father, that 'Shed End' the traditional viewing point for the hardcore Cork support.

During the day, a series of statements from supporters' groups voiced their anger at the FAI leadership.

"We call on the board of the FAI and the Executive Vice President to resign and allow football in Ireland to start again," said a statement issued by the Finn Harps Dublin Supporters' Club.

"We have for many years been fed the line from the FAI that the League was a problem child. It would seem that the FAI itself has been the problem."

A statement from one of the Longford Town supporters' clubs called for a joint protest at their game tonight.

"As one of the league's longest-serving fan groups, having been founded in 2001, Section O is calling on all Longford Town FC & Bray Wanderers fans attending Saturday night's match at the City Calling Stadium to voice their displeasure at the current FAI regime on the 33rd minute of play," they said.

A further statement from fans group, YBIG Independent Supporters Mandate, said they were "very disappointed in the conduct of the FAI delegation at Wednesday's Oireachtas Committee".

They added: "Improved corporate governance and transparency have been items that we have consistently sought to include on the agenda and both were glaringly absent at Wednesday's hearing and have been since the issue of the €100,000 loan came to light three weeks ago. There remain multiple questions to which no answer or unsatisfactory answers were provided.

"As a committee, we agree that radical change is necessary. We appeal to the board and those in positions of influence within the FAI to do the right thing for Irish football."

To date, only two of the 20 League of Ireland clubs have commented publicly and those clubs, Limerick and Waterford, expressed support for Delaney personally.

The Premier Clubs Alliance (PCA) held a meeting last Tuesday, before the Oireachtas committee, and a source said that there was no unanimity within the PCA to take a stand.

"It has gone beyond repair but it's going to be hard to effect change," a source said.

Irish Independent

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