Sunday 15 September 2019

FAI fires warning to Shane Ross as Minister ramps up pressure on Noel Mooney appointment

Noel Mooney, who has been seconded from UEFA to the FAI as General Manager for Football Services and Partnerships, with FAI President Donal Conway and Rea Walshe
Noel Mooney, who has been seconded from UEFA to the FAI as General Manager for Football Services and Partnerships, with FAI President Donal Conway and Rea Walshe
Talks: Sport Ireland chief executive John Treacy with chairman Kieran Mulvey at the Irish Football Stakeholder Forum in Dublin’s Mansion House. Photo: Kyran O’Brien
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

The FAI has warned Sports Minister Shane Ross that the decision to appoint Noel Mooney as interim general manager was its own business.

A statement from Abbotstown last night said that the "employment of any person by the FAI is a matter for the FAI".

The missive also made reference to a comment from the minister which acknowledged the "autonomy of the FAI in this regards".

Tensions between the FAI and Mr Ross have intensified since he penned a 'Sunday Independent' article strongly criticising Mr Mooney's six-month secondment to Ireland from UEFA.

He used a stakeholders' forum in Dublin's Mansion House yesterday to step up the pressure, by revealing UEFA president Aleksandar Ceferin had told him it was the FAI's call to bring in Mr Mooney.

Mr Ross had opposed Mr Mooney's appointment due to his status as a former FAI employee and his link with ex-chief executive John Delaney. And he was keen to tackle any perception that UEFA had identified Mr Mooney for the task of helping the crisis-ridden association.

"I spoke to him [Ceferin] on the telephone, on a very bad line to Baku," said Mr Ross.

"He said the FAI had picked Noel Mooney.

"The line was so bad that we had to abandon the conversation. I'm hoping to talk to him on Monday."

He noted the FAI's desire to bring in Mr Mooney came amid reports that all but one of the existing board plan to seek re-election at the end of July.

Mr Mooney starts work on Monday and Mr Ross said he would be open to speaking with the Limerick man.

"I'd be very happy to talk to him if he wants to talk to me," said Mr Ross. "He hasn't looked to talk to me."

Mr Ross said it was a "bit depressing" that elements of the FAI appeared resistant to change.

Mr Ross said the position of Mr Delaney - who is currently sidelined from the FAI and has been absent from UEFA meetings - was not discussed with Mr Ceferin.

The forum was attended by a range of figures from the past and present of Irish football.

The Governance Review Group established between the FAI and Sport Ireland was present, in addition to some FAI board members and staff.

Niall Quinn attended with US-based Kieran Foley, the author of an initial 31-page plan that outlined their group's vision.

It has been criticised by League of Ireland officials for a shortage of detail and a failure to engage with them beforehand.

Mr Quinn said their document had been cut from 95 pages and they would provide further clarification on their strategy if they were given responsibility by the review group.

"This is not dreaming," said Mr Quinn, who wants State support in tandem with the backing of multi-nationals. "We want to speak to clubs.

"If there's an interim group, we'd love to be a part of it. No one of us are in this for a commercial penny."

Fine Gael TD and chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Fergus O'Dowd, confirmed there are plans to bring the FAI and Sport Ireland back into the Dáil before July recess.

Irish Independent

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