Monday 19 August 2019

Q&A: Elections completed, but accounts issue hangs over meeting


Voting is seen during the FAI AGM at Knightsbrook Hotel in Trim, Meath. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Voting is seen during the FAI AGM at Knightsbrook Hotel in Trim, Meath. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

What happened at Saturday's FAI AGM?

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The main development of the meeting was the election of the president and vice president. Donal Conway ran unopposed for another 12 months as president and just five of the 140 delegates voted against him. Chartered accountant and former newspaper executive Paul Cooke won the vice president election, securing 80 votes to Gerry McAnaney's 57. Both candidates made a pitch to the room beforehand.


What happened the former vice president?

Noel Fitzroy only dropped out of the race on the morning of the meeting after coming under internal and external pressure. The governance review proposals said that up to two board members should stay on an interim board as part of a handover. Mr Conway was one and the problem for Mr Fitzroy was that schoolboy rep John Earley - who resigned from the board in June - opted to stand again for a regular board seat. Mr Fitzroy made a speech where he outlined that he was "devastated".


Were other board positions filled?

Yes, representatives coming from the various football constituencies were voted through in meetings held before the AGM and ratified at the main gig. Mr Earley was one of the successful candidates.


How many women got through?

Zero. This is a problem for the FAI as it has committed to having four women on the 12-person board inside two years.


So there will be no women on the interim board?

No. The four independent candidates still have to be selected with a nominations committee that will be initially chaired by Mr Conway starting the process of going through CVs. Mr Conway suggested the FAI would like at least two of the independents to be women if possible.


Was John Delaney's name discussed at the meeting?

As expected, there was no mention of the ex-CEO although his speech from 2018 was included in the minutes handed out to attendees.


What generated debate at the meeting?

This was a livelier affair than recent years and two subjects did lead to contributions from the floor. As rule changes were discussed, ex-board member Brendan Dillon, a solicitor, sought to clarify that the quorum for any board meeting will be six. Meanwhile, there was also a debate about whether long-serving auditors Deloitte should be retained.


How did that pan out?

The decision was deferred, with delegates already aware that the AGM would be adjourned at some point with a view to resuming in the autumn when accounts for 2018 are ready.


So there was no financial update?

No. A contribution from the finance director was on the agenda but that will now take place on the day the accounts are presented. There were a few references to challenges that may lie ahead, but Mr Conway didn't face any questions on finances until the post-meeting press conference.


Was any anger expressed?

The meeting was fairly cordial, although the discussion around the auditors did lead to a general chat that hinted at the strife of recent times. The most cutting contribution came from Finn Harps representative Paul McLoone who said the FAI hierarchy was moving too fast on making decisions without having fully got a handle on everything that has gone before.

"A lot of the decisions are being made on the blind," said Mr McLoone, who made reference to the all-male board. "The whole public perception will be same old, same old. I'm not sure this has been a good day at all. I don't see an awful lot of change."


Was the Government mentioned?

There were references to the importance of its support, yet the presence of Uefa and Fifa representatives highlighted the FAI's desire for football to retain autonomy over decision making. Mr Conway said Sports Minister Shane Ross had met Fifa and Uefa representatives but "disagreement" still exists - Mr Ross objects to former officers staying on.

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