Sport Soccer

Friday 24 January 2020

FAI issues apology to 'all levels' of Irish football and its staff while Minister Shane Ross says liquidation 'not a viable option'

FAI President Donal Conway during a press conference following the FAI Annual General Meeting at the Citywest Hotel in Dublin. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
FAI President Donal Conway during a press conference following the FAI Annual General Meeting at the Citywest Hotel in Dublin. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Stephen Bennett and Hugh O'Connell

The Football Association of Ireland has issued an apology to "all levels of the game" for the turmoil Irish soccer finds itself in.

Following today's reconvened AGM at the CityWest Hotel, the association - currently mired in debt with the threat of liquidation hanging over it - apologised to the "stakeholders" of the game in Ireland.

During the meeting, outgoing FAI President Donal Conway, as the last surviving board member from the Delaney era, was requested by Derry City representative Denis Bradley to make a statement later today.

"The FAI should apologise to the Irish people for what’s gone on and appeal for patience," he said.

"That will have more of an influence on politicians than banging them on the head claiming they’re not doing their jobs."

At the conclusion of the meeting, Conway agreed to the plea.

The FAI have since released the following statement: "The Board of the Football Association of Ireland has tonight issued an apology to the hundreds of thousands involved with Irish football at all levels of the game, to the Irish public and to FAI staff.

"The apology was made following the reconvened AGM of the FAI at the Citywest Hotel in Dublin where delegates were presented with the financial statements for 2018."

Conway added: "The clear message from our delegates today is that Irish football wants to move forward and we apologise to all our stakeholders for the mistakes of the past."

Responding to the FAI apology and events at its AGM on Sunday, Minister for Sport Shane Ross said liquidation or examinership was not a viable option for the association.

"The government does not see either liquidation or examinership as a viable option for the Association or for Irish Football," he said.

"Over the Christmas period Minister Brendan Griffin and I have been moving with other stakeholders to find a solution to the crisis that includes an acceleration in the pace of reform, the future of government funding, above all, a more secure outlook for FAI staff and certainty that grassroots football does not suffer."

He said the appointment of an independent chair and three other independent directors was necessary to continue the reform process and said he would meet with stakeholders early next month.

Mr Ross continued: "A radical change in the FAI culture is essential to underpin other reforms. The long-awaited appointment of an independent chair and three other independent directors, expected in the very near future, should provide the necessary impetus for a new confidence in the reform process.

"In early January Minister Griffin and I expect to meet UEFA , representatives of all League of Ireland clubs, spokespeople for the trades unions, directors of the FAI and other stakeholders in pursuit of a solution that avoids liquidation or examinership but secures the future of Irish football."

Mr Ross told Independent.ie on Sunday night that he welcomed the apology from Donal Conway. "I now hope the early appointment of an independent chair and directors will open a new chapter of reform," he added.

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