It was another day of drama at the FAI yesterday with FIFA representatives in Dublin, a full meeting of the FAI Council taking place for the first time since the wave of controversy began to wash over the sport and claims from trade union SIPTU that the Association was close to insolvency.
The last of these was perhaps less surprising given the turbulent relationship the union has had with the association and the fact that its main rival in terms of private sector representation in Ireland, the Unite trade union announced last week that it was to become a sponsor of a new competition bringing together the Champions of the FAI and the IFA.
There was a swift response from FAI President that UEFA had promised full support and backing and that this “will ensure the continued viability of the FAI and there is no threat to FAI Operations or to FAI Staff.”
This was also a clear message to delegates at the FAI Council. They gathered as a mix of those who had been staunch supporters of former CEO John Delaney and those who were opposed and were addressed by interim CEO Rea Walshe, Conway and Aidan Horan, the Chair of the Independent Governance Review Group established jointly between Sport Ireland and the FAI.
There appeared to be a welcome for his assertion that in the future there would be much greater openness with regard to financial matters and governance.
Finance director Alex O’Connell gave a short report to the meeting but no figures in relation to an up to date set of management accounts were offered.
Paul Cooke who has been appointed to the subcommittee of the Board ahead of his taking up the role of honorary treasurer in July said that he had been promised that all the necessary information regarding finances would be made available to him, both in his new role and as part of the ongoing process of engagement with Mazars, Grant Thornton and the other investigations taking place.
The FAI statement announcing his appointment stated that Cooke would be joining President Donal Conway and Board members Niamh O’Donoghue, Eamonn Naughton, Paraic Treanor and Noel Fitzroy on the sub-committee set up to oversee investigations and processes ongoing at the FAI.
Cooke said that he was “looking forward to working with the Board of the FAI on this sub-committee,” and that he was “confident that my business and financial background will be an asset to the processes underway at the FAI.”
The Annual General Meeting of the FAI, seen as being a bellwether date in terms of renewal and revival of its reputation and standing takes place on July 27th, 73 days from today.