Friday 20 September 2019

Conway leads from the front as FAI commission external review

FAI President Donal Conway. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile
FAI President Donal Conway. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

FAI President Donal Conway is believed to be leading the sub-committee of board members that has commissioned an external review into "issues of concern" after a turbulent fortnight.

The association has found itself in the spotlight since news of a bridging loan provided by John Delaney in 2017 raised fresh questions about the governance of the football body.

Delaney has moved from CEO to executive vice-president as part of a senior management review - the details of which emerged in the aftermath of Ireland's Euro 2020 qualifying win in Gibraltar.

However, that has not succeeded in answering lingering questions that exist about the FAI's stewardship and a section of fans made their dissatisfaction clear with a tennis ball protest and chants during last Tuesday's Aviva Stadium victory over Georgia.

On Saturday, the FAI announced that a sub-committee of the association's board have hired global auditing and consulting group Mazars to "conduct an independent and in-depth external review of all matters".

This is with a view to urgently addressing the media stories that have prompted concerns from "members of the football family, supporters, commentators, politicians and the public".

It followed on from meetings between board members during the week, and speculation about a split surrounding the position of Delaney.

The FAI have refused to comment on the make-up of the sub-committee, but long-serving board member Conway is understood to be at the forefront of the process.

Conway was the chairman of the underage committee before moving up the ladder to become vice-president and then president - he ran unopposed in the election for that position last August.

The FAI say they are "engaging fully with Sport Ireland and the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement in dealing with their particular inquiries".

Their statement added: "The Association will be appearing before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport and recognises and shares the desire for the matters to be addressed as soon as possible, with due regard to the different ongoing processes."

An FAI delegation led by Delaney will be appearing before the Oireachtas Committee on Wednesday week, April 10.

Sport Ireland are due in to appear first this coming Wednesday.

Delaney's ongoing role with the FAI has continued to be a source of debate, with the Dublin & District Schoolboys League releasing a statement over the weekend that paid tribute to his work.

They welcomed his retention in a new brief, stating that the league "viewed this as an opportunity for the executive vice-president to continue this work with both FIFA & UEFA for the good of Irish football".

However, it subsequently emerged on independent.ie that the statement was not ratified by the DDSL board.

It also angered a number of clubs who felt that they should have been consulted about such a statement.

Alan Caffrey, the head of youth development at leading DDSL club St Kevin's Boys, made his unhappiness known by posting a Twitter response with the message: "Who gave you (DDSL) the right to speak on behalf of the clubs?"

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