FAI crisis: Minister for Sport Shane Ross reveals board of football governing body will step down

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Minister for Sport reveals FAI board members will step down

All members of the Football Association of Ireland board will step down following a series of financial governance issues at the organisation, Minister for Sport Shane Ross has said.

Mr Ross revealed the move while delivering a statement to an Oireachtas Committee on Sport on Tuesday.

The FAI has suggested an emergency general meeting is held in July to establish a new board.

Former FAI CEO John Delaney had offered to step aside on Monday.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the Government shares the anger of football fans and concerns of taxpayers about how the FAI has been run.

"The objective must be to restore confidence in how the FAI is being run and make sure that we can get back to do what we should be doing," Mr Varadkar said.

"That is promoting this sport, funding it at grassroots level for participation by young people and women in particular, and making sure that this really popular sport across the country is able to focus on what it does best."

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was speaking to the Dáil

Earlier on Tuesday, it was revealed that Companies Registration Office had received a report from auditors Deloitte Touche saying that the FAI's accounts are not being kept properly.

The auditors said the FAI is contravening section 281 and 282 of the Companies Act.

Mr Ross added that the FAI will receive "no further Government funding" until "we see real change and reform in the association's corporate governance, and until we have credible answers".

The minister was reading a letter from FAI President Donal Conway at this afternoon's Tourism, Transport and Sport Committee meeting.

The FAI has been under intense political scrutiny since it emerged that ex-chief executive Delaney provided it with a bridging loan in April 2017 to prevent it exceeding its 1.5 million euro bank overdraft.

Mr Delaney has insisted he acted in the best interests of the game when he loaned the organisation 100,000 euro.

John Delaney
Delaney had offered to step aside from his role as FAI executive vice-president

Minister Ross said he was disappointed by the behaviour of the board in a seven-hour committee meeting last week, when members appeared unwilling or unable to answer basic questions.

"Concerns remain about a financial transaction, and corporate governance, which suggests that all is far from well," Mr Ross said.

"The FAI has written to me to say decisive action has been taken. I welcome that the FAI is engaging with Sport Ireland in a process, and that they have now indicated that the board will step down.

"I believe that an EGM should be called before the July date, as soon as the active investigations have been concluded, to facilitate a transition to a new board by way of transparent elections.

"Given the ever-growing lack of public confidence in the FAI, this move is to be welcomed and is hopefully the first step on the road to rebuilding trust in this important NGB (national governing body).

"Considering the issues over which most of this board has presided, and those issues being obvious even before the various investigations have started, it is clearly time for a regime change."

John Treacy of Sport Ireland told the committee that Aidan Horan, of the Institute of Public Administration, will be the independent chairman of the FAI internal governance committee.

He added that his organisation is concerned about the FAI's adherence to appropriate financial controls, and agreed with the FAI on Monday night that a full audit will be carried out.

"This audit will be as broad and extensive as necessary, including internal financial controls, management and general governance, all at a sufficient standard to restore funding," he said.