Entering the FAI Knee Jerk Phase

Without an actual hearing to report on the news cycle moved into the reaction phase yesterday with regard to the FAI.

Critics including Niall Quinn and Brian Kerr had expressed their views on the FAI’s unwillingness to fully engage based on legal advice.

The criticism was echoed primarily by supporters groups and a player representatives yesterday with calls ranging from the mass resignation of the Board to the removal of John Delaney and towards potential ‘chant’ protests at SSE Airtricity League games tonight.

Whether that extends to the 25,000 fans who will be at the Aviva Stadium for the Liverpool Vs Republic of Ireland legends game, in aid of Sean Cox, will not become apparent until perhaps the 33rd minute of the game.

It is likely that John Delaney and certainly members of the Board will be at that game.

Officials from the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement sought a transcript of proceedings from Committee room Four on Wednesday. Their investigation into whether any elements of Company Law were breached is reported to be ongoing.

There was a measured response from Three and the Irish agents of New Balance yesterday with both companies issuing statements in their capacity as major sponsors of the FAI.

“As primary sponsor of the Irish national football team and all international squads, our focus is on promoting the game of football for fans and our customers right across the country,” a Three spokesperson said yesterday.

“Corporate governance is of upmost importance at Three and we expect the same from all partners we work with. We note that the FAI has commissioned two reports to review recent matters and we expect all recommendations to be implemented.”

Three have been on board with the FAI since 2010 and are in place until 2020 meaning that negotiations on a renewal will likely be getting underway in the coming months.

There was a similar line coming from Jonathan Courtenay, Managing Director of Toplion Sports who represent New Balance in the Irish market.

“We note with interest that the FAI has commissioned various reports to review recent financial and corporate governance matters and we urge the FAI to implement all recommendations as soon as possible,” he said in a statement issued via Twitter.

People on the same channel, and in the comments section under stories online got excited suggesting this would mean the immediate removal of all those involved.

If that emerges as a recommendation of the two bodies I will eat my hat. They will confine themselves to matters of process rather than personnel and the suggestions they put forward to improve matters in both spheres will be introduced.

The removal of an entire Board is akin to dismantling the whole organisation. If they suggest that Board Members who have served beyond a particular length step down that could be another matter but one which will in all likelihood be adopted straight away.

If they suggest that the CEO was in some way at fault, they may go as far as to say he should consider his position. That has already been done.

The thought they will suggest he step away from matters involving areas in which he has a clear benefit to the Association but which are not involved in either area under inspection is fanciful.

Sport Ireland’s funding is clearly of importance and all steps needed, most likely along similar lines to those suggested by the sponsors will be adopted.

UEFA, who are the most effective oversight body for the FAI have not entered the debate at all and are unlikely to do so as it could be seen as interference. The only possibility is that they may go the other way and express concern over political interference in sport. That would not be unheard of and something that we would no doubt call for ourselves were it to be happening in a country with less developed democratic institutions.

The one that will really matter is the ODCE. That’s the one that could lead to immediate change, and potential sanctions or charges if they find the law to be broken.

As we have said before, there is no basis for removing someone from office just because they are not liked.


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