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FAI dissidents assess next move as Government insists agreement with association will not be renegotiated

Sports ministers call on association to show 'leadership' ahead of a vital AGM and EGM later this year

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The FAI's headquarters in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

The FAI's headquarters in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

The FAI's headquarters in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Dissidents within the FAI will assess their next move after the Government today confirmed that the terms of their agreement with the FAI will not be renegotiated.

But the new ministers responsible for sport have called for the FAI to show "leadership" ahead of a vital AGM and EGM later this year concerning further changes to the association's structure and proceed with the changes.

The Memorandum of Understanding attached to the bailout agreed in January between the Government and the FAI called for further changes to the FAI's structures, with the increase of the number of independent directors on the FAI board from four to six, while a
number of Senior Council members had complained about another section of the deal which imposed a 10-year time limit for service on the FAI Council.

If implemented as planned at this year's AGM, delayed from its original July date due to Covid-19, a number of Council members would
have to vacate their posts, as would recently-elected FAI President Gerry McAnaney.

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FAI President Gerry McAnaney. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

FAI President Gerry McAnaney. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

FAI President Gerry McAnaney. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Board members McAnaney and Paul Cooke contacted UEFA earlier this week to voice concerns about parts of the MOU which they claimed were in conflict with the recommendations of the FAI's own Governance Review Group.

Earlier, Council member Nixon Morton had contacted UEFA and FIFA to state his own worries about the changes being made.

There was also hope in some circles that the departure of ministers Shane Ross and Brendan Griffin since the formation of a new government could open the door on a review of the MOU, including changes which could see Council members extend their stay or at least have a fresh look at the increase of independent directors.

But the new ministers responsible, Catherine Martin and Dara Calleary, have said there will be no change.

"We wish to confirm for the Board that the new Government has no intention of entering any discussion with the FAI or other stakeholders on the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding signed in January by then Minister Shane Ross for the Government of Ireland and yourself on behalf of the FAI Board," a letter to FAI Independent chairman Roy Barrett, signed by Martin and Calleary, said.

"There is still serious work to be done to restore our trust that the FAI is fit to receive public funds. The conditions set out in the MOU
are absolutely essential and we would encourage the Board, the FAI council and the broader membership of the association to redouble their efforts to implement these conditions in full.

"We understand that an Extraordinary General Meeting is to be conveyed in the coming weeks to progress changes to the FAI Rulebook including providing for 6 independent directors on the Board.

"Whilst there are likely to be some within your membership who would be opposed to these changes, to safeguard the future of the association and the livelihoods of its employees it is important that going forward best practice corporate governance is implemented across the association.

"We would ask that all members of the Board show leadership to ensure there is no return to the financial and governance crisis which
paralysed the FAI through most of last year.

"We are firmly of the view that the vital reforms set out in the MOU will be transformational for the association, and that as well as
safeguarding the future of this important sporting body it will enable the FAI to develop Irish soccer at every level.

"There is extraordinary potential in the sport which was sadly untapped by the previous leadership. The time has come for a new
well-run, inclusive FAI where all parts of the game work together constructively for the good of Irish soccer.

"Sport Ireland will continue to work closely with the FAI to support the association’s overhaul which is sorely needed to rebuild public
trust and prevent future crises. We would like to reiterate our full support for Sport Ireland in this regard.”

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