Tuesday 24 September 2019

FAI chief Noel Mooney reacts to tweet over role in John Giles Foundation

Noel Mooney, the FAI’s interim general manager. Photo: Sportsfile
Noel Mooney, the FAI’s interim general manager. Photo: Sportsfile

Aidan Fitzmaurice

FAI General Manager Noel Mooney has taken to social media to engage with supporters and admit that the troubled Association need to 'restore confidence and credibility.'

Mooney is on a six month secondment to Abbotstown from UEFA and he popped up on social media on Monday to address comments from fans who noticed he now had a Twitter presence.

The Limerick man initially dealt with his role in the John Giles Foundation after weekend revelations in the 'Sunday Times' about payments made in relation to the concept of a charity walk.

Mooney worked on the 'Walk of Dreams' project during his first stint at the FAI and took to Twitter to deal with a question about his role.

He said he was 'not aware' of any payments and spoke of how the project 'raised hundreds of thousands of euros that was then distributed to fund grassroots clubs.'

Later on Monday night, Mooney continued discussions with fans on the broader issue of FAI reform and his relationship with ex-CEO John Delaney who has voluntarily stepped aside from his post pending the outcome of a number of reviews.

The ex-League of Ireland goalkeeper

was tackled on comments he made in support of the FAI board in 2017 while appearing as a guest from UEFA at the Irish association's AGM.

"Points taken..and we learn as we go," said Mooney. "But once the focus is on reforming and ensuring we are the best we can be in all areas, we can do it."

He went on to reference governance reforms, changes to the composition of the FAI board and the imminent appointment of four new independent board members, before addressing a query on the subject of improving relations with government.

State funding to the FAI has been suspended, and relations between the FAI and Minister for Tourism, Transport & Sport Shane Ross have deteriorated after he came out strongly against Mooney's return and President Donal Conway's decision to seek election for the interim board.

"The governance review recommendations being fully implemented is the crucial next step," said Mooney.

"We also need to restore confidence and credibility as we go and build strong relations with our government. No alternative. We all want the same thing..."

In an exchange with another fan, Mooney discussed reviews into FAI affairs that are expected to be completed in the coming months.

"We await the outcomes," he said, "Upon these results we must improve process, culture etc..."

Mooney then told another fan: "The FAI is changing and will continue to change until it is where it must be

"The four new independent Directors is a big step but again just another in the movement towards the goals. In a month they’ll be in and we go on from there."

"We can't fail," he said in another message, before responding to a user who said that they could fail.

"Yes we can fail ... but in truth we know we just cannot. The price for Irish football would be too high."

When it was put to him that fresh faces were needed and that Conway - amongst others - should have stepped aside, Mooney replied: "Lots of new faces on the way."

He was also asked about reports that Niall Quinn had decided against applying to be one of the independent voices.

"Niall was most welcome to apply to be part of new board of course," he said. "We all want positive change and it will be so

"I'm sure there is more bad news and challenges on the way. It's how we tackle them is how it must be judged."

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