Wednesday 21 August 2019

FAI on collision course with schoolboys association ahead of crucial AGM vote on governance reforms

FAI president Donal Conway at the launch of the Governance Review Group report at the Football Association of Ireland, National Sports Campus in Abbotstown. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
FAI president Donal Conway at the launch of the Governance Review Group report at the Football Association of Ireland, National Sports Campus in Abbotstown. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

John Fallon

FAI President Donal Conway has pleaded with the disaffected schoolboys’ fraternity to back governance reforms essential to restore state funding.

John Earley, Chairman of the Schoolboys Football Association of Ireland (SFAI), last week quit the board after he refused to endorse the recommendations presented by a committee containing a majority of Sport Ireland nominees.

Earley resigned due to the lack of a guaranteed SFAI representative on the new 12-person board. He leads the largest affiliate of the FAI, which caters for 120,000 players, and they account for 36 votes at the FAI’s annual general meeting on July 27th.

The governance reforms require a two-thirds majority at that summit, 140 votes, for them to become policy.

Minister Shane Ross will reinstate government grants, suspended in April amid concerns over governance and finances, if the reforms are passed. Continued sponsorship is also dependent on the raft of changes.

Most of the 24 votes assigned for schoolgirls’ leagues are controlled by the same 32 leagues within the SFAI.

They held their AGM on Saturday in Wicklow, where it was discussed whether to bloc-vote against the reforms unless they got a ringfenced place on the board. They have reserved their position until closer to the AGM.

In his speech to the SFAI council following their AGM, Conway said he would not be modifying the composition of the board, as outlined in the governance review.

He told the floor that they could seek representation on the board through other avenues.

Facing a multitude of questions from delegates, the man who has sat on the FAI board for the last 14 years, told the floor that he would remain on the board for a maximum of 12 months after the AGM if requested by the membership.

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