Wednesday 17 July 2019

'The initial task is to start rebuilding trust with people' - Noel Mooney opens up on FAI role

Noel Mooney
Noel Mooney
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

NOEL MOONEY says that his initial job with the FAI is about 'rebuilding trust' but insists that the board are in ultimate control of the direction of the game here.

Mooney has joined the FAI for six months as the General Manager for Football Services and Partnerships.

He has given an interview with FAI TV which dealt with a range of topics - including several discussion points around the UEFA employee's secondment to his home country.

Mooney denied that he had previously discussed the role of CEO with the FAI, and said that he did not have any role in the Jonathan Hall review that led to John Delaney's surprise March move from CEO to Executive Vice President before he was sidelined due to ongoing reviews into the FAI's affairs.

Former FAI employee Mooney was asked - by the FAI's Communications Director - if he would like to be the next CEO.

"The ambition is to roll up the sleeves here, work really hard as a servant for Irish football and then return to the UEFA at the end of November," he said.

"When you're in a team leading the developments of European football, I don't think it would be unusual for peoeple to think if you go home, you would take a leading role with the organisation," continued Mooney, with a nod to speculation that he was asked to come on board in March. "I've certainly never discussed it with the FAI."

In his opening comments, Mooney outlined his temporary brief.

"The initial task at hand is to start rebuilding trust with people in Irish football," he said.

"We've had a difficult couple of months here in Ireland but we are ready to listen to the different stakeholders. The board here are committed to reform. The next couple of months, there will be a few things happening, one is listening to create that reform and implement those changes.

"The FAI board is in charge of the strategy. The job of the administration (led by Mooney) is to implement that strategy that's approved by the Board. The administration is never in charge of Irish football, it should always be the board and that's how it will be in my six months here

"At the FAI, we will access as much support as is required (from UEFA) to get the game moving well here again in Ireland. I don't quite know how much support is required yet.

"When I join in June we will assess that with the staff here and agree what kind of support we can get from UEFA and we will have no hesitation in accessing all that support, be it personnel or finance, or whatever area UEFA and FIFA can help us in.

"Having seen first-hand their resources, it's immense and it's a great opportunity for the FAI to capitalise on that."

Mooney also sought to address his complimentary comments about the FAI at the 2017 AGM, suggesting that it is customary to praise the host association while appearing as a UEFA representative - while stressing that he still believes the FAI is more advanced than a number of other associations around the continent.

At that gathering, he recalled his time as an FAI employee between 2006 and 2011, stating they had a young CEO in Delaney who 'managed to make the Association fit for purpose.'

In today's interview, Mooney said: "The FAI can in many ways be seen as a leading federation in UEFA, that's for sure. And it's just a shame that the things that have happened have cast a shadow on the really good work of the FAI.

"It's a shame for the people in the grassroots club in my own village that they feel tainted a bit by whatever reviews are ongoing."

He admitted that the FAI have work to do to improve relations with sponsors and with the government with a funding suspension still in place.

"Because of the last couple of months, sponsors will be looking for improved values going forward," continued Mooney.

"When the board brings forward this reform, the values of the federation will come through in the future and that will allow the sponsors to benefit from good core values of the organisation doing the right thing. The sponsors will get a really good return for their investment in the FAI because of our performance across society and at the highest levels.

"The government play an important role in Irish football. Theye've been very good supporters of the game for many years. They invest in football but they get a huge return in terms of what they get from their investment. We look forward to working closely with the government to (a) restore the funding and (b) put a business case forward whereby we can increase funding for football because of the value we provide to society

"The governance reform offers the FAI a brilliant opportunity to create a new new chapter. It's crucial that we recognise the need for change. That's crucial. There is no alternative, we can't stay as we are. We must change and evolve, like any business or organisation but now is our moment."

The Noel Mooney interview with FAI TV can be found here.

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