Minister Shane Ross said yesterday that he and Minister of State, Brendan Griffin have been working closely with Sport Ireland to create alternative mechanisms to deliver support for deserving sports clubs and teams around the country.
Football clubs across the country benefitted to the tune of €4,337,637 in the Sports Capital Grants announced by the Department last month.
That is the equivalent of around 20 months worth of full FAI funding.
“More immediately, in tandem with Sport Ireland, we are finalising a proposal to fund the Women’s National team and players via a trusted independent third party,” Ross said in a statement last Thursday.
“This proposal, which was approved in principle by the board of Sport Ireland last month, will be concluded and agreed in the coming days.”
Everything about that sounds right to the public ear. The Women’s team is riding the crest of a wave at the moment and it sounds right to find a way to support them.
There are a couple of things that don’t quite add up though.
Most of Government funding goes towards programmes that reach out to minority and disadvantaged groups.
The FAI puts money towards the development of the Women’s game but unless the Minister knows how much was budgeted from own resources next year, how can he be sure that the ‘ring-fenced’ money is not simply allowing the FAI to divert the money it would have spent on its own towards other equally deserving projects.
The full annual grant comes in at just under €3 million. We do not yet know how much is planned by way of this new idea.
The provision of money for one particular purpose only, at a time when coaches and staff across the FAI are concerned for their job security coming into Christmas may yet come back to bite the Ministers.