Thursday 17 January 2019

FAI poised to overhaul board after Shane Ross directive

 

Under recommendations by Minister Shane Ross (p), best practice decrees that board members should spend no longer than nine years in office. Photo: Damien Eagers
Under recommendations by Minister Shane Ross (p), best practice decrees that board members should spend no longer than nine years in office. Photo: Damien Eagers

John Fallon

The FAI are set to overhaul their board of management next month to comply with a government directive calling for fresh thinking at senior level within sports organisations.

Seven of the FAI's 11-person board have served on the powerful committee for 11 years or longer.

Under recommendations by Minister Shane Ross, best practice decrees that board members should spend no longer than nine years in office.

This limit is designed to ensure a cycle of board renewal, according to Governance Code for Community, Voluntary and Charitable Organisations. The FAI have called an emergency general meeting in February for members to vote on the proposed changes facilitating their compliance.

Minister Ross, with a portfolio of transport, tourism and sport, came under pressure to lead reforms of sporting bodies following the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) ticketing scandal at the Rio Games in 2016.

Describing the OCI's corporate governance practices as "shameful", he began a process through Sport Ireland of making it mandatory for the major sporting organisations to be bound by the code. The FAI's board is the ultimate decision-making forum of Irish football, comprised of chief executive John Delaney and 10 other directors.

Only one female, Niamh O'Donoghue, is amongst those elected to the board and their average age is 65.

They have been responsible for rubberstamping all the major calls such as appointing and sacking managers.

The decision to remove Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane in November was ratified at a board meeting without the pair's knowledge on the day before Ireland's final Nations League game against Denmark in Aarhus.

Furthermore, six of them were in their seats, along with Delaney, when the controversial pricing of their failed 10-year premium ticket scheme for the redeveloped Lansdowne Road stadium was made a decade ago.

The February summit will also set about implementing measures of succession planning on the board.

It remains to be seen when honorary secretary Michael Cody and treasurer Eddie Murray, who both turn 80 next year, will step down as their terms run to 2020 and 2021. It also has to be clarified if Delaney as a full-time employee - appointed in 2005 and whose latest contract is due to expire in 2020 - is exempt from term limits.

Irish Independent

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