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'We don't support, share nor endorse any of the concerns expressed by Mr Morton' - Athlone slam FAI council member's letter

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Nixon Morton (left)

Nixon Morton (left)

SPORTSFILE

Nixon Morton (left)

Athlone Town have issued a strong statement criticising FAI Senior Council member Nixon Morton's recent letter to fellow delegates, FIFA and UEFA where he raised concerns over the make-up of the association's interim board.

Last week FAIS (FAI Schools) delegate Nixon Morton wrote to FIFA and UEFA to express the "very real concerns of a representative sample of our football family" over a number of matters at the FAI.

Of particular concern to Mr Morton was the Memo of Understanding between the FAI and the Department of Sport, which will see the number of independent directors on the FAI board increased from four to six, with council members no longer eligible for their roles after ten years' service.

Morton's letter also mentioned "a titanic battle for the heartand soul of football in our country".

Yesterday, Minister for Sport Shane Ross gave his backing to the FAI board in the face of the challenge and said he will not allow the return of the "old guard."

Now Athlone Town have weighed in with a robust statement saying the League of Ireland club "does not share any of the concerns recently expressed by FAI Council member Nixon Morton to other council members, as well as UEFA and FIFA".

Athlone also questioned the timing of Mr Morton's letter while there was a global pandemic, stating that "everyone involved in the game needs to work together and get football back on its feet" and the letter "adds nothing to the tough task of repairing the FAI's public standing".

"Having considered the communication in full ATAFC is calling on Mr. Morton to formally withdraw his letter with immediate effect," it adds.

ATHLONE TOWN'S FULL STATEMENT

The board of Athlone Town AFC would like to state publicly that it does not share any of the concerns recently expressed by FAI Council member Nixon Morton to other council members, as well as UEFA and FIFA.

The contents of said letter, received in recent days by ATAFC chairman Mr John Hayden along with other FAI council members, made references to and raised concerns about the FAI's interim board and governance at the association.

Having considered the letter's contents the board of ATAFC would like to make it crystal clear that it in no way supports, shares nor endorses any of the concerns expressed by Mr. Morton.

Nor does ATAFC believe that these concerns are shared by the vast majority of those involved in Irish football.

We also believe that the timing of Mr Morton's intervention, given the extreme circumstances that prevail globally due to the Covid19 pandemic which has all levels of the game in a forced hiatus, is regrettable.

After a period of much turmoil within Irish football, everyone involved in the game needs to work together and get football back on its feet. This letter adds nothing to the tough task of repairing the FAI's public standing.

Having considered the communication in full ATAFC is calling on Mr. Morton to formally withdraw his letter with immediate effect.

Mr Morton raises several issues about the FAI's interim board and governance at the FAI.

ATAFC believes acting CEO Gary Owens and acting Deputy CEO Niall Quinn have inherited a mess, most certainly not of their making.

It is not ATAFC's role to praise, nor criticise either individual over what they have done since they assumed their respective roles at the FAI.

However the club's position is that the interim board should be allowed get on with their jobs, which have been hugely complicated by the pandemic.

ATAFC welcomes the interim board's and the government's recent reaffirmation of their commitment to bring about real change at the FAI.

In his letter Mr Morton cites concerns about governance and how the independent chairperson and other senior executives at the FAI were appointed.

We note his suggestion that the process may have been subject to "inappropriate influence" and that the highest standards of governance were not applied.

These are very serious allegations, but we note that no evidence at all is supplied by him in his correspondence to back up his claims.

If there is any person attempting to exert inappropriate influences over the FAI's affairs then Mr Morton should be able to identify those persons, and set exactly when he believes their goals to be.

Other concerns raised by Mr Morton include the requirement that council members with more than 10 years service must to retire by 2020.

ATAFC fully supports this move, and does not see why anyone, FIFA and UEFA included, should be concerned by it.

In light of everything that has become known a clearing of the FAI decks is something that is not just desired, but is required.

In order to rebuild faith new, independently appointed people must come and ensure that the FAI is properly run, and not just for the benefit of a select few.

The changes may end the tenures of persons who had no hand, act or part, in the making of the situation the FAI currently finds itself in.

However the club believes that this move is a price well worth paying.

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