Monday 18 December 2017

FAI slash costs in bid to 'secure future growth'

ON the day that government ministers announced their four-year plan, the FAI gradually began to roll out the reality of their next 10 years.

Abbotstown staff have been aware for some time that the significant borrowings to fund the association's commitment to the Aviva Stadium would eventually come back to cause them problems.

That much was clear when the planned nest egg that was the sale of premium levels seats for the renovated Lansdowne Road developed into an unmitigated disaster.

Naturally, the FAI referenced the impact of the recession in a press release sent out after John Delaney had addressed Abbotstown staff. But the impact of the FAI's big decisions over the last couple of years will be pondered by the newly unemployed.


The timing was also cruel. With the nation waiting anxiously for the swingeing cuts that were revealed at government buildings, members of the FAI technical department received phone calls on Tuesday asking them to report to Abbotstown the following day.

Miriam Malone, effectively the assistant to technical director Packie Bonner, met with the regional development officers from around the country who learned their fate one by one from 9.0.

National Futsal Co-Ordinator Derek O'Neill was relieved of his position. So was Ian Carry, the FAI Development Officer for Schools.

The four people in the department tasked with developing the women's game were informed that just two positions remained and they could apply for them. Regional Development Officers from other parts of the country were also shown the door.

In total, 12 people will be redundant in the aftermath of a grim day. The pain wasn't just restricted to the technical department, with the long standing head of referees, Pat Kelly, culled from his post.

The retained employees earning more than €40,000 per annum will receive a 5pc drop in salary, with Delaney promising to take a bigger cut from his €430,000 wedge. Giovanni Trapattoni and Marco Tardelli are treated separately, though, so the usual amount will drop into their bank accounts this month.

Bonner's exact status is ambiguous, but sources last night confirmed that he is on his way out with the terms of his departure holding up the official announcement.

On Tuesday night, Bonner was at Dublin's D4 Hotel at a function attached to a 'B' licence Goalkeeping Course which is being staged by the FAI this week.

Those taking the programme were told yesterday that the Donegal man was departing the association.

It's possible that he will stay on the books as an ambassador, however his future plans are unclear. The FAI would be conscious of the bad PR associated with cutting such a popular figure adrift.

Wim Koevermans, the FAI's High Performance Director, should broaden his role to encompass some of Bonner's duties, with Malone taking on greater prominence.

That's the new reality in FAI HQ, with the duties of departed Director of Finance Mark O'Leary and outgoing Commercial Director Rory Smyth being filled internally with a redrawing of job titles.

The FAI statement said the cost reductions would "ensure that it remains efficient and continues to deliver on its mandate to grow and develop football in Ireland."

Delaney added: "The sustained deterioration in the economic climate has, in common with other organisations, raised challenges for us as an Association.

"Although we have already achieved significant cost savings in overheads and put in place numerous strong sponsorship agreements in 2010, we now have to implement further measures.

"While no one wants to see any staff leaving the organisation or salary reductions, we need to continue to operate within a prudent business plan."

Ironically, the missive added that reductions in ticket prices for international matches will be announced before the end of the year.

A case of too little, too late for those who wake up this morning without a job.

Irish Independent

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