Sunday 15 December 2019

Ross decides FAI must wait to have its State funding restored

Controversy: Former FAI chief executive John Delaney. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Controversy: Former FAI chief executive John Delaney. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Aidan Fitzmaurice and Harry Clarke

The Government has confirmed State funding to the FAI will not be restored "in the near future".

In a statement last night, Sports Minister Shane Ross said that "on foot of the findings of the KOSI report" into the FAI the Government would not reinstate funding to the beleaguered organisation.

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Mr Ross said he has been "working closely with Sport Ireland to create alternative mechanisms to deliver much needed support for deserving sports clubs and teams around the country" which could see the FAI sidelined in any bid to access State funds.

"The Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, Shane Ross TD, today confirmed that on foot of the findings of the KOSI report, received this week, the Government will not be in a position to reinstate State funding to the FAI in the near future," said a department statement.

It added: "More immediately, in tandem with Sport Ireland, we are finalising a proposal to fund the Women's National team and players via a trusted independent third party. This proposal, which was approved in principle by the board of Sport Ireland last month, will be concluded and agreed in the coming days."

Mr Ross's statement came as gardaí investigated the findings of the audit of the FAI's finances, which was ordered by Sport Ireland in the wake of controversy surrounding former chief executive John Delaney's loan to the organisation.

The State's governing body for sport forwarded the report to gardaí soon after its completion and it is expected the Garda's national economic crime unit will review its contents to determine if a crime has been committed.

Speaking at Road Safety Authority's launch of the Christmas and New Year road safety appeal earlier yesterday, Mr Ross insisted he had not yet seen the KOSI report but that he was "impatient" at the pace of reform.

"I haven't seen the report," he told reporters.

"Sport Ireland has sent it to gardaí. I'm not at liberty now to comment on any investigation that is going on.

"The correct thing has been done and we must acknowledge that. It's the right thing to do in the circumstances."

The minister stated that his preference was to publish the report in its entirety but he was unwilling to give an indication of how long that might take.

He also expressed frustration at the pace of the reform process being undertaken by the FAI in the wake of the summer Governance Review Group report.

However, he refused to commit to publishing a redacted version as requested by Noel Rock TD, a member of Fergus O'Dowd's Joint Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport yesterday.

"My objective is always to publish everything in full," he added.

"Of course I want to see it published at the earliest possible date but I can't have it published if there's a Garda investigation going on."

Irish Independent

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