Wednesday 21 August 2019

Noel Mooney says FAI will look into alleged attempt to hack into fan Whatsapp group

FAI General Manager for Football Services and Partnerships Noel Mooney in Abbotstown
FAI General Manager for Football Services and Partnerships Noel Mooney in Abbotstown

John Fallon

FAI General Manager Noel Mooney has said that the association will look into allegations that there was an attempt to hack into a fan Whatsapp group ahead of a planned protest against former chief executive John Delaney.

Mooney confirmed that he would look into allegations reported in the Sunday Times about an email exchange between Delaney and his security director in December, where a Whatsapp group set up by Irish fans unhappy with the then CEO's performance was discussed.

"I would have to review the material,” said Mooney, confirming the security director was still working as normal.

"We have had a few busy days with the EGM but, of course, I will look at that. I just wonder about the culture that was there at the time."

Mooney also confirmed that a decision on possible redundancies at the FAI couldn't be made for at least a month.

SIPTU yesterday voiced their concerns about comments made over the weekend by President Donal Conway, which they claimed caused ‘alarm’ for their members at the financially-stricken association.

UEFA have provided a borrowing facility of around €10 million to alleviate cash-flow problems but the long-term outlook has yet to be established amid mounting legal and accountancy bills.

Mooney, who says it is “extremely unlikely” he’ll apply for the CEO job on a full-time basis when his secondment from UEFA ends in November, couldn’t provide guarantees of job security to the staff of 205.

“I can’t say (anything) on the job situation at the moment because I actually don’t know,” he said.

“We should have a better picture in three or four weeks. We’ve only started to look at our fiscal position and had a meeting yesterday. 

“We know of our fixed and variable costs and the work is continuing with a big accountancy firm. It is premature to talk about redundancies; nothing has been brought to the board in terms to job losses.”

Mooney was speaking at the launch of report from UEFA showing football contributes €1.13 billion to the Irish economy.

The statistical analysis strengthens the FAI’s case for more government funding but they have to restore the existing grants towards staff wages before entering new ground.

Relations between Sport Minister Shane Ross remain fraught over Donal Conway’s intention to see re-election at Saturday’s AGM.

Ross was also critical of Mooney’s return to the association in May, bracketing him amongst the old guard of the FAI connected to deposed chief executive John Delaney.

The former League of Ireland goalkeeper is bemused by the political reaction, suggesting the upheaval engulfing Irish football makes it unattractive to stay at the helm.

"I found it strange coming home after eight years into this argument,” said Mooney, who joined UEFA in 2011 after losing his job as FAI’s marketing manager.

"Asking me today, towards the end of July, with all the noise and commentary out there, I'm not sure that I would even apply for it. I would say it’s highly unlikely.

"I just hope that whoever the FAI bring in as the permanent chief executive is the right person to bring Irish football forward.

"It will be a very different FAI to the one that I knew eight years ago. It will be democratic, one with many voices and opinions.”

Today’s deadline to submit nominations for the six places on the new 12-person board could be extended. The various constituencies have been meeting this week to decide on their candidates.

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