Thursday 24 October 2019

UEFA looking at staff options to help steer troubled FAI out of crisis

Stepped aside: Former FAI chief executive John Delaney. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Stepped aside: Former FAI chief executive John Delaney. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

The prospect of UEFA sending staff to Ireland to help the FAI through a period of crisis is a viable option after talks between the two associations.

A delegation from the FAI met UEFA President Aleksandar Ceferin in Switzerland last Monday to discuss the Irish body’s current position.

That was followed a day later by a scheduled visit from UEFA governance experts.

The FAI has found itself in turmoil since revelations about former chief executive John Delaney’s €100,000 loan to the organisation.

It is understood that one option being considered is UEFA overseeing a short-term appointment to help the FAI through a testing period dominated by governance and financial reviews with legal implications.

FAI resources are strained by the task at hand. Developments are expected this week, with a FIFA team also due to meet the FAI board on Wednesday after correspondence with Abbotstown.

Ex-League of Ireland goalkeeper and current UEFA employee Noel Mooney has been floated as a possible candidate for a move home.

The FAI and UEFA are refusing to comment on the details of discussions and neither party will confirm if the position of UEFA Executive Committee member Mr Delaney was discussed in Switzerland.

Direct contact between the FAI and Ceferin without the involvement of Mr Delaney is still a significant development.

FAI President Donal Conway, interim CEO Rea Walshe and board member Eamon Naughton represented the FAI in that meeting.

It was reported over the weekend that the Government is troubled by any suggestion that UEFA might take an active role in the day to day running of the FAI.

However, the FAI receive a substantial amount of funding from UEFA and are conscious of the need to stay within FIFA rules related to government interference in the affairs of a football association.

In that context, the input of UEFA and FIFA will have to take a central role in the ongoing review of governance that is being overseen by a joint committee made up of FAI and Sport Ireland nominated representatives.

FAI sponsors Ford say that a reorganisation programme in Europe is the reason they have ended their 13-year association. “It has not been driven by any other external considerations,” said a Ford spokesman.

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