Friday 23 August 2019

FAI offer olive branch to schoolboy faction in attempt to secure support for GRG report

The Football Association of Ireland hope to quell an uprising from the powerful schoolboy faction by affording them a direct route to a seat on the new 12-person board. Stock photo
The Football Association of Ireland hope to quell an uprising from the powerful schoolboy faction by affording them a direct route to a seat on the new 12-person board. Stock photo

John Fallon

The Football Association of Ireland hope to quell an uprising from the powerful schoolboy faction by affording them a direct route to a seat on the new 12-person board.

The failure of the Governance Review Group (GRG) to ringfence a place at the top table for the largest affiliate under the FAI's auspices led to SFAI chairman John Earley quitting the board last month. His displeasure was shared by his colleagues, a rump across the schoolboys and schoolgirls leagues that amass 50 votes at the upcoming FAI EGM and AGM.

Such a scenario threatened to derail the requirement for 140 delegates from a field of 206 voters to back the reforms. Nothing less than that two-thirds majority at the EGM in Dunboyne Castle next Saturday will convince Sport Ireland to reinstate vital state grants.

A new rule book issued to voters this week, transposing the GRG's 78 recommendations into the FAI's structures, offered an olive branch to the rebels. The one director representing underage football on the new board will be appointed by their delegates on the FAI council.

Under the reforms, the enlarged council doubles the SFAI cohort to eight, handing them a landslide majority over the girls section. There was also something to appease the veterans of the council in the new blueprint, branded the 'clean version' of the rule-book.

Fears that members of the 58-strong council with a decade's service would be turfed out were allayed. That new provision still allows them to seek re-election for a last term of three years.

Age, however, could present a restriction to some. A rule change enacted by the FAI in 2015 facilitated Michael Cody and Eddie Murray to prolong their tenures as secretary and treasurer respectively. The stalwarts were both heading for their 80th birthdays when they quit in April. A rule amendment restricts the age of a council member to 70, in line with UEFA policy.

Irish Independent

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