The FAI will no longer stand alone in front of the Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport tomorrow. They won’t stand at all.
An FAI statement issued shortly after 1030 am this morning said that
“The Board of the Football Association of Ireland has this morning informed the Joint Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport that it is unable to accept an invitation to appear before the Committee on Wednesday, December 11th.”
“The focus of the Board at this moment in time remains the refinancing package that will guarantee the future of the FAI and safeguard jobs, as well as the appointment of an Independent Chairperson and Independent Directors.”
“As key Board members and senior executive staff are required at meetings vital to the financial restructuring and the appointment of an Independent Chairperson, it is not possible for the FAI to appear before the Oireachtas Committee on this occasion.”
“The Board remains committed to appearing before the Committee on a date when the appropriate representatives are available.”
Sport Ireland and the Department of Transport, Tourism and sport, led by Minister Shane Ross are due to sit before the Committee next week.
The Committee had invited all three to a special meeting this week following the publication last Friday of the full accounts for 2018 and the requested accounts for 2016 and 2017.
They have also requested a redacted copy of the Kosi report which was referred to Gardaí last week. Clearly the committee would not want to prejudice any investigations that might arise but the report is a key element in rebuilding trust by exposing the actions of the past to independent scrutiny.
It makes sense and is likely an important step in recruiting the new independent Directors and Chair that will play an important role in the coming months but which has been held up by a lack of clarity and information.
What can be shared should be shared wider than the very limited number who have had access to it so far.
Law and corporate enforcement representatives were scheduled to have met yesterday to plat a pathway towards how any investigation might be divided up but that in itself will be a process that takes time.
Management at SSE Airtricity will meet this week with FAI officials in connection with their ongoing partnership as sponsors of the SSE Airtricity League and as Official Energy partners to the FAI.
Discussions had taken place at an informal level among a number of the key FAI backers over the course of the travails that have been brought upon the Association. The decision by Three to end their partnership at its conclusion in 2020 will frame the context for these discussions now.
SSE Airtricity has been a partner of the FAI for a decade.
Boots, Aviva, Nissan, Carlsberg and Spar are among the other major sponsors at the FAI.
Image credit: Oireachtas