Thursday 17 October 2019

FAI structures set for shake-up as governance review group looks to 'modernise the make-up' of Irish football

A report has been released into FAI governance. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
A report has been released into FAI governance. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

The governance review into the state of the FAI says it is time to 'modernise the make-up and perception of football administration in Ireland.'

Changes to the size and profile of the board and the committees below it are recommended in a document that would shake up the traditional structures of the game here if it is implemented.

The five person group - consisting of three independent Sport Ireland representatives and the FAI's chief operating officer Rea Walshe and board member Niamh O'Donoghue - have looked to address the issue of gender balance, term limits and the roles and responsibilities of board members.

They have called for the board to be increased to 12 members - four of whom would be independently appointed. Within 12 months, they want four members of the 12 to be female with that condition mandatory in two years.

"There is need to clearly signal that involvement in football administration at a national level is not an almost exclusively male preserve," says the report.

That balance is also to be reflected at the levels below the top table.

Significantly, the Review Group acknowledges that an interim board needs to be put in place for the next 12 months in order to enact changes that will have to be voted through by members.

The remaining seven members of the Board are due to step down at the AGM on July 27.

It is proposed that one or two members of that board stand for re-election to sit on that interim committee for the sake of continuity.

The roles of Honorary Secretary and Honorary Treasurer are to be abolished. They were previously held by Michael Cody and Eddie Murray who resigned in the aftermath of a turbulent period for the FAI.

It was instigated by the emergence of a €100,000 bridging loan given to the FAI by ex-CEO John Delaney in 2017.

Delaney is currently sidelined from his role as Executive Vice President.

The report calls for improvements in how the board operates, stating: "The power of the Board is as a collective and not as individuals or groups of individuals"

Review group chair Aidan Horan says in his opening address that there is 'evidence of a breakdown in trust, faith and confidence in the Association.'

The process of collecting submissions and conducting interviews with stakeholders highlights a number of areas where improvement is necessary.

Key recommendations include:

  • The FAI should formally assign a qualified person to the role of Company Secretary
  • The board should undertake an annual review of its own effectiveness, and that of its committees
  • The FAI should implement a comprehensive risk management system
  • The FAI Board needs to ensure that a robust culture of 'holding to account' operates and is seen to operate within the organisation.
  • It calls for an Executive Performance and Remuneration Committee to assess the work of the CEO
  • It highlights that the FAI does not have an internal audit function and should immediately make arrangements for same
  • A code of conduct obligations incorporating ethical standards expected should be regularly communicated
  • It calls for an in-depth review into the operation of any and all joint ventures or significant partnerships including the Aviva Stadium

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