Sunday 18 August 2019

FAI approve rule changes that will lead to major reforms at embattled Association

Noel Mooney, FAI General Manager arrives ahead of the FAI EGM at Dunboyne Castle
Noel Mooney, FAI General Manager arrives ahead of the FAI EGM at Dunboyne Castle
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

The FAI has approved rule changes that will facilitate the introduction of the reforms recommended in a wide-ranging review of the embattled Association's power structures.

Delegates at an extraordinary general meeting in Dunboyne Castle gave the green light to proposals put forward by the Governance Review Group established between Sport Ireland and the FAI following a turbulent period for Irish football dating back to the March emergence of ex-CEO John Delaney's bridging loan to his employer.

There was widespread expectation that the meeting would back the rule changes after talks earlier in the week between FAI officials and the factions which had concerns they wanted addressed.

The most significant bloc of opposition that existed was in the schoolboys wing, but they are now satisfied that their place on a new 12-person board will be safe.

In the end, just two delegates voted against the proposals. The final vote was 116 for, two against

With the rule changes through, the next step will be to formalise the process at next Saturday's AGM.

The 78 recommendations of the Governance Review Group will be phased in across the next 24 months.

Key changes include the constitution of a new 12-person board with four independent members and at least four females — although the latter target does not need to be met straight away.

Six members of the board will come through football constituencies, and they have to be nominated by Wednesday with a view to election at Saturday’s AGM.

The other two places will be filled by the president and vice president. Incumbents Donal Conway and Noel Fitzroy are looking to stay on for another year as the report recommended that up to two existing board members stay around.

That has caused consternation in political circles with Minister Shane Ross calling on Conway to reconsider his decision.

The minister's intervention led to FIFA and UEFA sending communication to the FAI warning them about possible sanctions for a breach of rules on political intervention in football — a point that Abbotstown officials had referenced during the course of a period where relations with Ross have become seriously strained.

Adopting the governance proposals was one of the steps necessary for the restoration of government funding but Sport Ireland's appearance in front of the Oireachtas Committee on Sport during the week made it clear there was more hurdles to jump.

That includes the completion of a Sport Ireland-commissioned audit into the FAI which is being carried out by Northern Ireland firm KOSI.

Donal Conway has confirmed that he will be standing by his intention to run for election at next Saturday's AGM.

He is the only candidate to put himself forward for the role - which would involve remaining as President for one more year.

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