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FAI oversight on spending is questioned: €80k contract awarded without public tender


COSTLY: FAI CEO Gary Owens approved €80k restructuring. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

COSTLY: FAI CEO Gary Owens approved €80k restructuring. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

COSTLY: FAI CEO Gary Owens approved €80k restructuring. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) spent more than €80,000 restructuring the organisation last year without a tender or system in place to apply oversight to the process.

The restructuring was approved by the former interim CEO Gary Owens before the permanent chief executive Jonathan Hill was appointed.

It has led to further questions among key stakeholders about corporate governance and accountability at the organisation.

This comes a year after the embattled association received a €30m State bailout following a series of meetings between ministers, high-ranking officials, advisers and delegates from Bank of Ireland, Uefa, League of Ireland clubs and union representatives.

Under EU rules private entities in receipt of state funding are obliged to engage in a competitive process when awarding services contracts.

Last year the FAI acquired human resources support from Yvonne Clancy, an expert consultant with a background in the financial services and pharmaceutical industries.

It came as officials at the association were concerned about staff morale and a negative culture within the workforce.

This eventually led to Ms Clancy conducting a review of the association and its human resources hierarchy.

In June, interim CEO Gary Owens approved an overhaul of the FAI's organisational structure following Ms Clancy's review.

This led to a reduction in the size of the FAI's executive team and a number of key roles being advertised internally at the association.

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It meant a number of senior managers, including chief operations officer Rea Walshe, marketing director Mark Russell, grassroots director Tom O'Shea and League of Ireland director Fran Gavin, had to reapply for their roles.

Ms Walshe and Mr Russell were retained in their positions. Mr O'Shea retired from his role and Mark Scanlon replaced Mr Gavin as director of the League of Ireland.

Mr Gavin remains an FAI employee after taking the role of data, registration and competition manager.

Sources told the Sunday Independent questions were asked internally of the decision to press ahead with the restructuring while the recruitment process to hire a new CEO was still in the early stages.

Traditionally a new CEO would have oversight of such a process, but it had been suggested reorganisation was to be completed quickly. Commencement dates on the posts that were advertised internally were listed as "immediately".

Sources said Ms Clancy's services should have been tendered for "given the financial cost" to the association, but the distraction of other issues being addressed at the FAI meant the tender process was overlooked.

"There should have been a tender done, irrespective of the need and what else was going on at the time," a source said.

"The FAI needed HR expertise so Yvonne Clancy was brought in, and then her role changed slightly as more work needed to be done.

"Staff morale and HR needed some work and it was thought people would benefit from the resource."

The FAI declined to answer questions about the matter last week.

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