Sunday 18 August 2019

FAI can see light at end of tunnel, says Conway


FAI President Donal Conway. Photo: Sportsfile
FAI President Donal Conway. Photo: Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

FAI President Donal Conway last night said that the troubled football body is starting to see the 'light at the end of the tunnel'.

Conway addressed a dinner of FAI delegates ahead of today's AGM where he is running for another year as president - a decision that has been condemned by Minister for Sport Shane Ross.

He made reference to the troubles that have engulfed the FAI in recent months since the emergence of ex-CEO John Delaney's bridging loan to his employer in 2017.

A number of investigations into FAI affairs are ongoing and accounts will not be presented at the meeting as a consequence.

"We've had our challenges over the last number of months," said Conway, speaking at the event in Knightsbrook Hotel in Trim - the venue for the meeting.

"When myself and Cathal (Dervan - FAI communications director) talk about the early stages, we had this analogy that first of all you find the tunnel, then you get a sense of direction, then you see the light at the end of the tunnel and then you start to make your way out.

"I suppose that's been a bit of the process. And we do see the light at the end of the tunnel."

Conway made reference to rule changes that were passed at last week's EGM which will lead to changes in the size and profile of the board in the future, adding that the FAI will 'continue with that good work' at the AGM.

His decision to go for another year was contentious as he has served on the board since 2005 and had indicated to Minister Ross in April that he would stand down - along with his remaining counterparts.

However, the governance proposals for the FAI that were passed at the EGM recommended that up to two board members stay on as part of a handover.

Conway is standing unopposed, but vice president Noel Fitzroy faces competition from Paul Cooke and Gerry McAnaney.

There has been speculation throughout the week that one of those candidates might drop out, with suggestions that some figures within the FAI were unhappy with the optics of both Conway and Fitzroy standing again.

The picture will become clear before proceedings kick off at 11.0am.

Former board member John Earley - who resigned in June on account of unhappiness in schoolboy football circles about the reform changes - is planning to stand for a board position again.

Six candidates from football constituencies will join four independents and the president and the vice president on the 12-person top table.

Irish Independent

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