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'It's based on interpretation' - Quinn insists FAI can row back on ten-year rule agreed with Government in MoU

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FAI Interim Deputy Chief Executive Niall Quinn. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

FAI Interim Deputy Chief Executive Niall Quinn. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

FAI Interim Deputy Chief Executive Niall Quinn. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Niall Quinn, Interim Deputy CEO of the FAI, says the association plans to carry on with their proposal to allow council members to serve for longer than ten years, even though that is in contrast to the Government position on term limits in the FAI.

And Quinn has called on figures in the Irish football community to "grow up" as the FAI prepare for a key meeting of FAI Council members today.

The FAI board will attend a meeting of FAI Council members at a Dublin hotel today. That gathering was called by Leinster FA official James Kelly on behalf of Council members who are concerned about elements of the Memorandum of Understanding in the January agreement between the FAI and the Government, a deal which saved the debt-ridden association from insolvency.

Eight members of the 12-person board are publicly at odds with the version of events set out by FAI Interim CEO Gary Owens on whether the board had signed off on the terms of the MOU before agreement was reached with the Government in January, and a Thursday night statement on behalf of FAI Chairperson Roy Barrett did not clarify the issue.

Speaking today on OTBSports.com, Quinn appealed for cool heads ahead of what is likely to be a testy atmosphere when Council members meet in Dublin this afternoon, that gathering coming before a key EGM of the FAI on August 31st where ratification of major rule changes will be sought.

"It's not hard when you step back from the emotion and the hysteria," Quinn told OTBAM.

"We knew it was coming that people would not be comfortable with change but the hostility that has existed, all that has led to do is throw a lot of things into doubt. There are so many things out there that surely the best thing is to talk about it and make sure that people are comfortable with it.

"We need to calm down from where everyone is.

"This is about making sure the association is saved, that there is good corporate governance and new procedures that gives people confidence in the association going forward. Can we take one step back, get our heads out of our own backsides and ask what unity can bring to August 31st.

"We have to grow up, all of us have to grow up and come to a conclusion that will see the game flourish in the future and putting self interest in play before saving the association is wrong."

But questions have emerged this week over the 10-year rule. The MOU in January's deal made it clear there was a limit of 10 years for service on the FAI Council or Board, and if implemented this year that would see a large number of Council members forced to stand down, a major issue for those on the Council.

At a media briefing on Wednesday, Owens said the board were looking at a tweak of that rule where members could stay on board if they passed a "fit and proper person test". Owens said: "Anyone over 10 years who is fit and proper, not conflicted and has the proper skill set, we will be happy to appoint them".

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From left: Brendan Griffin, Gary Owens, Shane Ross and Niall Quinn speaking after the Memorandum of Understanding was agreed earlier this year. Photo: Sportsfile

From left: Brendan Griffin, Gary Owens, Shane Ross and Niall Quinn speaking after the Memorandum of Understanding was agreed earlier this year. Photo: Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

From left: Brendan Griffin, Gary Owens, Shane Ross and Niall Quinn speaking after the Memorandum of Understanding was agreed earlier this year. Photo: Sportsfile

That caused a storm in political circles and former Minister for Sport Shane Ross, also speaking on OTBSports.com yesterday, said there should be no change in the 10-year limit, and while Ross is no longer in office and cannot enforce policy, he claimed to have Government backing for that stance.

"It must have been crystal clear to them that some people on the board now or on the council have been there for 10 years and they had to go. That's right and proper, that's good governance, that people should go after 10 years," Ross said.

"As far as I am concerned, the 10-year rule stands. It was a binding part of the agreement and it should stand, not for any reason of personalities or anyone involved, it should stand because that is good governance as people should not be on boards of any sort like this for more than 10 years, that's just good, proper governance, to prevent issues like they have had before happening as people get lazy and fall into traps, become insiders," Ross added.

But Quinn today defended the board's plan to allow members stay on after 10 years.

"It's based on interpretation and I don't think the Government would like us to lose really good skillsets," he said today.

"We have to show unity and if there is a skillset there that can help the association going forward, shunning it for the sake of drawing up a rule to remove people can be looked at. If that means going to the Department of Sport on that, what is wrong with asking the question?

"How it's interpreted by UEFA and FIFA, we are entitled to ask the question if that's set in stone as if you are losing good skillsets, that's something you have to look at," Quinn added.

Online Editors