Sunday 15 September 2019

FAI stuck with Aviva debt for another six years in cash crisis

Former FAI CEO John Delaney
Former FAI CEO John Delaney

Daniel McDonnell and Cormac McQuinn

The FAI has set a new target of 2025 to be free of its €30m Aviva Stadium debt and will face calls from delegates to extend that date.

Finances at Abbotstown have been strained over the past decade due to bank borrowings, which peaked at €70m. The failure to sell a sufficient amount of 10-year premium-­level tickets increased the strain and resulted in job losses and pay cuts.

Uefa is now providing financial support to the FAI as it deals with the cost of six reviews into its affairs in the turmoil arising from ex-CEO John Delaney's bridging loan to his employers. The FAI may need up to €10m in assistance from European football's governing body.

Mr Delaney had targeted debt-free status by 2020 and had expressed confidence that it would be achieved.

However, FAI council members were told on Wednesday that the current hierarchy is looking at 2025 as the date.

Some council delegates believe the FAI should be looking at pushing out the repayment date even further to facilitate badly needed investment in the game.

Meanwhile, Sports Minister Shane Ross has played down suggestions the FAI is on the brink of insolvency and said it would be "totally irresponsible" to say jobs were at risk.

He said he was open to meeting with Siptu after its representatives sought a meeting on the basis of staff fears.

"I'll meet anybody who I think has got a really genuine interest," said Mr Ross.

He said there was a question of the FAI having a "problem" due to the current suspension of Government funding, but he added: "I have no reason to believe it is insolvent."

He denied he was saying the union was being irresponsible.

Irish Independent

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