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Friday 20 September 2019

Recommendation would cause major upheaval at FAI

Changes at board level move slowly

FAI Chief Executive John Delaney Photo: Sportsfile
FAI Chief Executive John Delaney Photo: Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

The implementation of gender quotas at board level would cause a serious shake-up in the FAI. That's not just because of Minister Patrick O'Donovan's recommendation that 30pc of positions are filled by women.

In the FAI, it would be a major departure to introduce a raft of new faces to the top table regardless of their gender.

Most of the major decisions in Abbotstown are referred back to the FAI's 10-strong Board of Management.

Six members of the current board have been in place for more than a decade: CEO John Delaney, honorary secretary Michael Cody, honorary treasurer Eddie Murray, domestic committee head Jim McConnell, legal/corporate committee rep Paraic Treanor and vice president Donal Conway, who previously served as the head of the underage committee.

The long-serving Milo Corcoran, the popular head of the International Committee, passed away earlier this year and is yet to be formally replaced.

President Tony Fitzgerald, a veteran of the Munster FA, joined the Board in 2010. That was also the window where a female candidate, Caroline Rhatigan, challenged League of Ireland representative Eamon Naughton for his place but lost a vote, which led to the Galwegian being retained for a second term that was duly extended.

Rhatigan claimed that clubs had been pressurised into voting against her, comments that prompted a response from Naughton via the FAI that "any talk of meddling is completely unjustified". The beaten candidate had raised questions about some of the FAI's financial decisions.

The newest member of the board is Tipperary's John Earley, who took the Underage Committee slot last year. He replaced Tim Fitzgerald - the original replacement for Conway when he moved onto the presidential cycle - who sadly died after a battle with illness.

Under the existing structure, any official with aspirations of progressing to board level would have to move through one of the committees and then be elected to join the main decision making body. Recent history suggests that changes to the hierarchy are, at best, infrequent.

But the FAI last night said that this year's disbanding of the Women's Football Association of Ireland to bring the administration of women's football under the remit of the FAI included negotiations to guarantee representation on the Board of Management from women's football inside the next 12 months.

They listed other important roles within the FAI that are held by women. Back in 2014, Legal Affairs Director Sarah O'Shea became deputy CEO to Delaney but she has since left the association.

Sue Ronan, who last month managed the Irish senior women's team for the last time, is now tasked with overseeing the FAI Women's Strategic Plan. FAI technical director Ruud Dokter was yesterday asked if Ronan's replacement as manager would be male or female.

"We need to have the best candidate," he said. "We have appointed a head of women's football - Sue -so that is an important step for the development of women's football. It is important women take responsibility for themselves."

Inheriting greater responsibility for anything else could be a stiffer challenge.

Irish Independent

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