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FAI gets €12.5m debt write-off on Aviva


THE FAI has secured a hugely significant deal with its banks to write-off debt worth €12.5m.

The Irish Independent can reveal that the football association came to an agreement on the write-down of its Aviva Stadium loan at lunchtime yesterday, after almost six months of negotiations with Danske Bank.

A source close to the talks said the successful renegotiation of the FAI's loans, which now stand at €43m, leaves the association "in a very good position to achieve the objective of being debt free by 2020".

"This was a phenomenal bit of business when you think about it, almost a quarter of debt reduced following months of intensive negotiations," said the source.

FAI accounts for 2012 showed it owed €59m on the Aviva Stadium, which had put the deal in a perilous position.

However, continued negotiations -- in which businessman Dermot Desmond and owner of St Patrick's Athletic Garrett Kelleher had been "very helpful" -- brought the deal to a successful conclusion.

The FAI is now in a very positive financial position.

The new deal for the FAI and chief executive John Delaney leaves the association with lower interest payments based on a smaller borrowing principle. The FAI is believed to have changed its bank from Danske Bank as part of the deal.

And from January 1, a television rights deal worth around €10m a year with UEFA kicks in, worth €40m up to the start of 2018. The deal brings 2013 to an extremely positive end after the trauma of missing out on World Cup qualification.

After the disappointment of Ireland's failed attempts to qualify for Brazil 2014, Ireland parted company with national coach Giovanni Trapattoni.

However, fortunes turned for the association with the 'feel-good' appointment of new boss Martin O'Neill and his unlikely assistant Roy Keane.

Sports Minister Michael Ring welcomed what he described as a "great coup" for the FAI in restructuring its debt.

He paid tribute to Mr Delaney for the deal, saying he had gone through a "difficult time" earlier in the year.

"It is a credit to him and to the FAI," he said.

Mr Ring said the restructuring of the debt was important for all levels of the game, the FAI, the Aviva Stadium and the country.

"It puts the FAI on a secure footing for the future with their funding," he said.

Ian Mallon

Irish Independent