Sport Soccer

Monday 16 September 2019

FAI has not sufficiently explained €100k bridging loan from John Delaney - Sport Ireland

John Delaney at the Ireland vs Georgia game. Photo: Clodagh Kilcoyne
John Delaney at the Ireland vs Georgia game. Photo: Clodagh Kilcoyne
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

THE FAI has not sufficiently explained the reasons for a €100,000 loan given to it by its former CEO John Delaney, the body which oversees its State funding has said.

Sport Ireland, the body with statutory responsibility for developing sport in Ireland, will appear tomorrow before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Tourism, Transport and Sport to discuss its funding of the FAI.

The FAI has come under increased scrutiny - and will itself appear before the same committee next week - after it emerged in the media that in 2017 the then-CEO Mr Delaney lent the organisation €100,000. The loan was not disclosed in the organisation's accounts, nor was it notified to Sport Ireland.

The FAI has said it was a bridging loan in relation to cash-flow issues and the body has responded to a letter from Sport Ireland which sought "urgent clarification" on the loan.

However, Sport Ireland’s chief executive John Treacy will say that the organisation does not feel it has received sufficient explanation about the loan and whether the failure to disclose the FAI’s financial position at the time of the loan meets with the terms and conditions of the grant funding given to the organisation.

Under the terms organisations are required to notify the body about "any apparent deterioration in the FAI’s financial position" according to Mr Treacy.

He will tell TDs and Senators that "the contents of the FAI letter did not sufficiently explain the circumstances of this loan and its repayment, nor fully address the matter of compliance with Sport Ireland’s Terms and Conditions of Grant Approval."

A second request for information was issued by Sport Ireland to further assess if the grant terms were met has not yet been responded to. 

The body has also sought "re-confirmation that all state funding provided to the FAI has been spent for the purposes intended".

In his opening statement to the committee - seen by Independent.ie  - Mr Treacy will move to reassure the members that the substantial grant funding handed down to the FAI of around €2.9m per year is fully accounted for and used properly.

He will outline the oversight mechanisms in place to ensure exchequer money is used correctly including an annual review of the FAI financial statements, annual signed auditor’s statements confirming the money was spent as per its intention and external audits carried out every three years.

The FAI has been audited by Sport Ireland’s independent auditors on more occasions than any other sporting organisation and the last three audits - in 2010, 2014 and 2016 have provided Sport Ireland with "the highest level of assurance".

Last year, Sport Ireland raised a query with the FAI in relation to their liquidity position after the organisation secured a €1.3m overdraft in 2017 and their debt position increased that year but were given reassurances from the FAI that the overdraft was a timing rather than a liquidity concern and that the balance had been in credit for most of the 2018 to that point.

Mr Treacy will also reveal that Sport Ireland was not informed by the FAI about changes to its governance structure in recent weeks - nor has it seen the report on the basis of which those changes were made.

On March 23 in a media statement the FAI confirmed Mr Delaney would move to the newly created role of Executive Vice President, while Rea Walshe would take up the role of interim CEO.

Sport Ireland was not told about those changes until March 25 in a letter.

Sport Ireland will also outline today how the grant money given to the FAI is used - including on the grassroots, education and player development programmes in the organisation.

In response to queries a spokesman for the FAI said: "The FAI is engaged with Sport Ireland and will continue to work with Sport Ireland in response to all matters raised."

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