Tuesday 21 May 2019

FAI staff 'rattled' by scandals as Fran Gavin insists he is 'still proud to work for the association'

Fran Gavin, FAI Director of Competitions
Fran Gavin, FAI Director of Competitions
Attending a meeting with the Oireachtas Committee on Sport at Dáil Éireann in Dublin are from left, FAI President Donal Conway, FAI Executive Vice President John Delaney and Fran Gavin, FAI Director of Competitions. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Aidan Fitzmaurice

FAI official Fran Gavin admits that staff in the association have been “rattled” by the series of scandals which have led to four separate probes into FAI affairs.

A delegation from FIFA will visit FAI HQ tomorrow, the same day as an FAI Senior Council meeting, to get an update on the FAI's bid to emerge from their two-month-long crisis.

The CEO of the IFA attended the launch in Dublin yesterday of the cross-border Unite The Union Cup, but interim FAI CEO Rea Walshe was absent.

And FAI Competitions Director Gavin, as the most senior official present, was left to speak for FAI staff.

"I'm still proud to be working for the FAI, and always will be," said Gavin.

"All the staff that I talk to at the moment are a bit, I suppose, rattled with what's happened over the last while. The FAI has been a steady ship for a long time and suddenly the ship has been rocked."

Meanwhile, Pat Fenlon says he's concerned about the desire for real change within the FAI.

And the former Bohemians, Shelbourne and Shamrock Rovers manager, now working with Belfast side Linfield as general manager, insists that the SSE Airtricity League has to be given a priority in a new-look FAI regime.

Dubliner Fenlon was in his home city yesterday working for newly-crowned Irish League champions Linfield, who will face the 2019 League of Ireland Premier Division winners in a new cross-border cup competition, the Unite The Union Champions Cup, which will be staged on November 8 and 11.

Fenlon has welcomed the initiative of the cup which has a prize fund of €100,000, though he has called for the FAI and IFA to contribute on top of the cash invested by sponsors Unite. But ahead of an FAI Senior Council meeting tomorrow, Fenlon has voiced concerns about how serious the FAI are about change.

"I am hopeful that it will begin but I don't see anything that tells me that at the moment," he said.

"We want change quickly but the structures of the association have to be different from what they have been for a long period of time. Eventually it will go back to where it was previously if we don't have serious change in there.

"We have seen these things and heard all these things but then seen them buried. It has all come home to roost now, I suppose. The association needs a compete restructuring," he said, adding a call for more focus on the senior game.

"There has been no input or desire to make the League of Ireland any better. That's the one thing, I hope, that comes out of this and that in four or five years' time we are going on about a full-time, vibrant league."

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