Wednesday 21 August 2019

What are they voting on and what's at stake? Everything you need to know about the crucial FAI EGM

FAI president Donal Conway. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
FAI president Donal Conway. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Ireland Under 19 international Andrew Omobamidele along with team-mates and staff at a visit to the Children and Youth Technical Creativity Center of Ajapnyak in Yerevan, Armenia. The U19s play their final group game against Czech Republic tomorrow. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Aidan Fitzmaurice

It has been a seismic year for those running football in this country and the next few weeks may well bring even more upheaval. Here, for those who may not have been paying attention, are some questions which may bring people back up to speed.

Why are so many of the Football Family in Dunboyne today, is there a match on?

No, it's an Extraordinary General Meeting of the FAI.

Why the 'extraordinary' bit and is it important?

It's vital to the very survival of the FAI and a key step in having their government funding restored.

So what happens today?

FAI members will be asked to approve major rule changes so they can be implemented at an AGM next Saturday, basically the 78 recommendations contained in the Governance Review Group.

Can anyone pop along?

No, only accredited FAI delegates.

Not even the media?

No, they are locked out for the EGM, though there will be a press conference afterwards.

Just how big are the changes that are being planned?

Seismic, they will change the way football in Ireland has been run for the 98-year life of the FAI.

What will change?

The structure of the FAI will be dramatically transformed. The board will no longer be simply elected from the various representatives of the 'football family'.

The role of the CEO will be completely altered, as will that of the FAI president. Four members of a 12-person board will be nominated independently, and the gender balance will also change.

Also key is the establishment of a Football Management Committee.

What about grass roots?

The FAI Senior Council, currently 61-strong, will be expanded by 21. Groupings currently not represented at Council, such as the Women's National League, players (PFAI) and supporters will all get seats on the Council and a possible route to board level.

Is everyone happy with the changes?

No, even senior FAI staff have admitted there is resistance to the change to the old ways. Donal Conway accepted this week that there were grumblings from the floor at the FAI's roadshows about formally involving the PFAI and supporters groups, as established sections of the game fear they are being edged out.

What about gender balance?

That's going to be tricky. The GRG report wants a 33 per cent female presence at Council, Committee and AGM levels within three years. With a huge disparity between males and females at playing level as well as volunteer level, that's going to be hard to make happen.

Will the reform process pass?

Two weeks ago it was doubtful as the influential Schoolboys FAI (SFAI) body had threatened to vote 'no' at what they saw as a loss of power. But relations between the FAI and SFAI have improved, as assurances given to them this week mean they will vote for change.

What's next?

All back to Trim on Saturday week for the AGM.

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