Monday 19 August 2019

Conway unable to rule out job losses as FAI declines to discuss Delaney deal

FAI president Donal Conway. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
FAI president Donal Conway. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

FAI president Donal Conway has refused to rule out job losses as part of a review of the association's finances.

Mr Conway, who has confirmed he plans to stand for another year as part of an interim board, has also again stressed that the FAI will not be answering questions about former chief executive John Delaney or the terms of his contract.

Mr Delaney remains on the sidelines but is still being paid by the FAI.

Rule changes passed at an extraordinary general meeting on Saturday will lead to significant changes in the power structure of the FAI.

But a number of questions still linger about the events that prompted a series of reviews into FAI affairs.

Mr Conway was pressed on Irish football's financial position after the meeting.

Sports Minisiter Shane Ross. Photo: Kyran O’Brien
Sports Minisiter Shane Ross. Photo: Kyran O’Brien

It emerged that members who attend this Saturday's annual general meeting of the FAI will not be presented with the yearly accounts.

The meeting will instead be adjourned and will resume in "late autumn" when the figures are available.

The FAI is in line to receive financial support in excess of €10m from Uefa to help it through a difficult period.

When speculation that the amount could reach €20m was put directly to Mr Conway, he stressed that no deal has been signed yet.

"We are working closely with Uefa on a new financial model and we're probably a couple of weeks away from finalising that," said Mr Conway.

He indicated an early drawdown of funds owed to the FAI is part of what is on the table.

"What I would say to you is that we can get €10m to €12m from Uefa in any one year, that tends to be what we get," he said. "I think the idea of a new financial plan or financial model is to try to work on a current year basis.

"We have deals with Uefa from 2018 to 2022, a TV deal that is a particularly big pot of money.

"Ideally we call them down when they are due to be called down but what we have done in the past and what we have to do is take advance payments."

Pressed on whether a new plan will involve redundancies, Mr Conway said: "The financial analysis, the financial planning and the implications of that are all ahead of us.

"It's not something that is absolutely signed off on yet.

"We have to build a sustainable financial model going forward and that's the exercise that we are engaged in."

Mr Conway added that the passing of the vote that will lead to the implementation of a governance review is the first step towards the restoration of State funding.

It will lead to the construction of a 12-person board with four independent members and at least four women.

However, Mr Conway's decision to stand for election for another year has met with strong political opposition, most notably from Sports Minister Shane Ross.

Questions have been raised about members of the old regime being involved in reform plans.

"I take the point about credibility," said Mr Conway, responding to questions about his past performance after the EGM.

"I've said that the board did not operate to the standards that it should have. There is an exercise in winning back the trust of the public."

He added that he was hopeful State funding could be restored this year, while acknowledging that the review into the FAI by the ODCE could still be at a "relatively early stage".

Irish Independent

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