Thursday 17 October 2019

Ross in scathing attack on FAI as Mooney role branded 'backward'

Noel Mooney. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Noel Mooney. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Aidan Fitzmaurice

Relations between the Government and FAI have reached a new low after Minister for Sport Shane Ross launched a withering attack on the embattled football body, saying that the appointment of Noel Mooney to an FAI role was "going back to the dark ages".

And Ross has said that his department, and Sport Ireland, objected to that FAI role for Mooney, claiming the appointment was "brazen backsliding".

On the field of play, Mick McCarthy suffered a blow over the weekend as Alan Browne suffered a injury while on the squad's training camp in Portugal and he's now out of the squad for the Euro 2020 double-header.

"Alan has been very unlucky with injuries this season," said McCarthy.

"An ankle injury kept him out of the two games in March and now this calf problem has ruled him out of the matches against Gibraltar and Denmark."

McCarthy has not called in a replacement for Browne as midfielders Glenn Whelan, Conor Hourihane and Josh Cullen are due to link up with the squad this week after the promotion play-offs are finished.

But it was a bruising day for the FAI as a body as Minister Ross used his 'Sunday Independent' column to state his unhappiness with the appointment of former FAI staffer Mooney as the effective CEO on an interim basis.

Mooney will begin work with the FAI, on a six-month secondment from UEFA, next Monday and while he will not use the CEO title, he will effectively be in charge for that period.

His past as an FAI employee, and his close links with former CEO John Delaney, where Mooney lauded the Waterford man and his efforts with the FAI, have led to widespread criticism of that appointment.

And the minister has gone in with a two-footed tackle on the FAI board and Mooney.

"Last week the caretaker board decided to do more than care-take. It appointed a man called Noel Mooney to take the reins for a 'temporary' six-month period. It did this in the face of the opposition of not only Sport Ireland, but also the Government," Ross said.

"In recent days, it has been desperately trying to spin this retrograde appointment to the media as a prudent development.

"Public confidence in the FAI, already at its lowest ebb, will now hit rock bottom.

"The decision to install Mooney was a backwards step. The Irish people have a right to know why the top brass of the FAI chose him to take the role of general manager (chief executive by another name).

"Equally, they have the right to know why we objected in no uncertain terms in a tense, face-to-face meeting with the FAI," added Ross, who hosts a "stakeholders' forum" in Dublin on Friday.

Irish Independent

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