Friday 17 January 2020

Crisis-hit FAI owes gardai almost €360k for policing Ireland matches last year

The Aviva Stadium. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
The Aviva Stadium. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Gordon Deegan

The crisis-hit Football Association of Ireland (FAI) has left the Gardai almost €360,000 out of pocket over its failure last year to pay any money for policing operations around major international soccer matches in Dublin.

A spokesman for the Gardai today confirmed that “total fees outstanding to An Garda Síochána from the FAI for policing events is €357,244.95”.

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He stated: “An Garda Síochána are continuing to pursue the recovery of the outstanding sum."

In a recent written Dáil reply, the Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan confirmed that in the year to December 12th last, the FAI made ‘zero’ payments to the Gardai for non-public service duties.

The Garda spokesman confirmed on Friday that no payment has been received from the FAI since December 12th.

He stated: “This outstanding debt has had no impact on the garda budget.”

The bulk of the monies would concern policing international matches at the Aviva stadium and last year, the senior Republic of Ireland team played four Euro 2020 qualifiers at the stadium.

The matches were against Georgia on March 26th, Gibraltar on June 10th, Switzerland on September 5th and Denmark on November 18th.

In addition, the Republic also played friendly matches at the Aviva against Bulgaria in September and New Zealand in November.

In contrast to the ‘nil’ payments from the FAI, Minister Flanagan stated that in the year to December 12th last, the GAA had made payments totalling €947,939 to the Gardai for non-public service duties while the FAI’s co-owners of the Aviva, the IRFU had made payments totalling €247,627 to the Gardai last year.

In his written Dáil reply to Deputy Tommy Broughan, Minister Flanagan stated that the cost to the event holder is determined by the number of Gardaí deployed and the hours they are deployed for.

He stated: “An Garda Síochána issues invoices to all relevant event holders.”

He added: “It is not always possible to define the demarcation line between public and non-public duty and it is not always feasible for An Garda Síochána to recover the total policing cost of any particular event as the over-riding concern of An Garda Síochána is public safety.

On the failure by the FAI to pay over the outstanding monies, the Garda spokesman stated: “The reasons for the non-payment of money owed to An Garda Siochana is a matter for the body that has not paid the money to comment on. No further information is available.”

He stated: “We don’t comment on the specifics of on-going correspondence with third parties.”

Asked why the FAI failed to make any payment last year or does it intend to pay the money owed to the Gardai, a spokesman for the FAI would only say: “We have no comment.”

The failure by the FAI to make any policing payments last year is the latest illustration of the perilous financial state at the organisation that threatens jobs of people working there.

The association has current liabilities of €62 million and made a loss of €8.9 million in 2018. They believe that 2019 will also be loss making perhaps up to €4m.

If the FAI was to enter liquidation with the scale of liabilities involved, there would be little prospect of the Gardai securing the monies owed.

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