Whether or not the Republic of Ireland qualifies for the 2018 World Cup Finals will be the determining factor in how quickly the FAI pays off the debt that still exists from the construction of the Aviva Stadium.
That was the sensible and rather obvious financial headline to emerge from the FAI AGM in Kilkenny at the weekend.
Annual turnover of €50 million in the twelve months gone has strengthened the Association’s cash position but ongoing discussions over pay restoration for members of staff is still bubbling away and former senior trade union leader Peter McLoone has been brought in to try to resolve that before it becomes a very public row.
Niamh O’Donoghue’s appointment to the FAI Board of Management was a first for a Woman in the sport and a reflection of the work that has gone into the promotion of the Women’s game. This despite the odd bump in the road such as the row with the national team over kit and funding that emerged earlier this year.
The AGM did not cover the ongoing challenges facing the Association in the domestic club game with Bray and Athlone Town and the absence of an opportunity to raise matter from the floor or through media questioning meant that the coverage of the events in Kilkenny was somewhat negative in today’s media.
That has become a common theme and relations between John Delaney and senior management with the media have some ongoing repair work to be undertaken before that is likely to change.
It was announced that the Player Development Pathway is to be expanded with the launch of a National U13 League adding to those at U15, U17 and U19 from March 2019.
There were positive indicators in terms of programmes attracting more people from more groups to get active in the game and it was announced that next year’s Festival of Football, hailed as a success again across Kilkenny this year will take place in Cork in 2018.