Saturday 14 December 2019

Delay in signing off FAI accounts as debt set to surge above €50million

The FAI won't appear at Oireachtas Committee on Wednesday
The FAI won't appear at Oireachtas Committee on Wednesday

John Fallon

JOHN DELANEY’S pay-off from the FAI will be revealed over the next week when the cash-strapped association eventually publishes its accounts.

A reconvened AGM to discuss the financial statements is likely to be held on Saturday, December 21, after the accounts weren't signed off at a meeting of the eight-person board last night.

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The FAI's new Vice-President Paul Cooke recently confirmed the requisite 21-day notice period to members of the gathering would be issued.

Cooke warned that the figures would cause "shock" in football circles. Debts could soar above €50m when the emergency overdraft facility provided by UEFA over the summer is added to the legacy mortgage on Lansdowne Road.

Sports Minister Shane Ross and his fellow deputies on the Oireachtas committee have been seeking details of Delaney's severance package - understood to be around €300,000.

Delaney's formal exit was confirmed on September 29 following late-night negotiations.

He was on gardening leave in April on his full €360,000 salary as an unprecedented crisis at the FAI deepened.

The Waterford man was less than a month in a role of executive vice-president after been reassigned from the CEO post he held for almost 15 years.

Noel Mooney, who replaced Delaney in caretaker capacity, is set to be succeeded by John Foley when he returns to his employment with UEFA next week.

Foley has held similar positions at Athletics and Cycling Ireland. He's also on been on League of Ireland board for the past 12 years as an independent director.

Amid the financial maelstrom, Foley will be tasked with pruning the company's costbase.

The wage bill at the organisation employing 200 workers is around €11m, heightening the possibility of pay-cuts and/or lay-offs. Some key personnel have already quit the FAI since the crisis erupted.

It's also believed the disposal of some property interests is under review to generate much-needed cash.

The FAI's portfolio includes stakes in the grounds of League of Ireland clubs of Drogheda United, Cobh Ramblers and Wexford. They also split ownership of the Clonshaugh football complex in Dublin with the AUL.

A pack due to delegates over the next week will also include an amended version of the 2017 accounts arising from issues flagged by their auditors in April of this year.

Deloitte lodged a H4 notice with the Companies Office concerning a failure to keep proper records.

The Revenue Commissioners have also reassessed four years of returns made by FAI.

Those extra liabilities included in the latest accounts compound their financial woes.

Multimillions have already been forked out this year on legal and financial costs related to various ongoing audits and reports.

The Sport Ireland-commissioned report by KOSI is currently being reviewed by the FAI before publication in the coming weeks.

It's believed to be damning on the light-touch oversight in place during Delaney's reign.

Another firm, Mazars, are due to deliver a report instigated by the FAI themselves in March.

However, the most serious is the investigations is by the state's corporate watchdog, the Office of Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE).

They have interviewed both past and current directors of the FAI and, if deemed appropriate, have the powers to initiate criminal proceedings.

Meanwhile, another storm is brewing in the underage football sector if proposals are passed at an EGM of the Schoolboy Football Association of Ireland (SFAI).

Under a new rule, any youngster who has been played in the Under-13 national league will be barred from representing his county at the prestigious Under-14 Kennedy Cup tournament in Limerick the following year.

Delegates will get to support or block the change on December 14.

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