A Week in the Spotlight for the FAI

The sentiment has been expressed before but this week is shaping up to be pivotal for the FAI.

With sport still feeling its way back we have the first postponement of an SSE Airtricity league Fixture this evening after a Waterford FC player reported feeling unwell and the team has gone into isolation awaiting the results of a test.

The game scheduled at Sligo Rovers has been pushed back though the hope is that as has been the case in other leagues across Europe this will be handled under protocols and will not impact significantly on the remainder of the season.

The game will be refixed once the results are known.

On Friday, there will be a special meeting of the FAI’s National Council at the Red Cow Moran Hotel on the outskirts of Dublin.

This has been requested by more than 20 council Members and so has been called in accordance with the FAI rules and constitution.

Those same rules will be the order of the day as Council Members look to raise questions about agreements made as part of the rescue package signed in January that allowed for funding to keep the FAI afloat.

A central part is the idea of a new way of running football with Independent Board Directors that will rise from four to six in the formation of the next Board, and a diminution of the powers and the makeup of the FAI Council where power has traditionally resided.

In simple terms, the Government wanted not only new faces but the removal of old faces who it saw as having at best been asleep at the wheel during the Governance issues that arose or at least are alleged to have arisen under the stewardship of former CEO John Delaney.

Those that have served their time and risen through the ranks of committees and steering groups over the years will now be forced to stand down as fresh faces and fresh thinking are insisted upon.

Some have called this an unnecessary intervention in the independence of the sport and called upon Fifa and UEFA to stand up for that concept.

The two bodies have probably seen enough of Ireland for a while however and seem to be content that the rescue package was essential and that none of the contingent changes was a case of overreach in terms of control.

UEFA is one of the parties to the agreement.

The Government has stressed that there will be no rowing back on the commitments made as part of the package but it still has to be voted through by an AGM of the FAI which has now been pushed back as a result of the pandemic.

The FAI is hosting a media briefing at Abbotstown tomorrow where it is expected that senior figures in the administration will outline plans on how the AGM will be held and stand by the commitments made.

Add into the mix discussions on the potential challenges to Stephen Kenny resuming the International football season amid travel restrictions that may be about to get tighter, the ongoing recruitment process for a permanent CEO of the organisation and multiple other swirling eddies and it all makes up to a week that will see the FAI across the back pages, and maybe the front ones, for reasons wholly unrelated to the kicking of a ball.

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