The FAI’s AGM will resume tonight in an online setting for the purpose of ratifying Directors to the board.
UCD’s Richard Shakespeare stepped down from the Board last month, a loss to the Board given his deep connection with the sport and his position as a leading light within Dublin City Council, sitting over the sporting and cultural brief as part of his responsibility.
His not going forward though has allowed for the Professional Football Chamber to nominate Niamh O’Mahony who won a tight election against Caroline Rhatigan voted on by representatives from the clubs, Men’s and Women’s leagues, players, and underage leagues.
She currently works as the Chief Operating Officer and Head of Governance with Football Supporters Europe, a group representing supporter-owned clubs.
Her elevation to the FAI Board will see female representation rise to 25 percent, still short of the 40 percent requirement by the end of next year in order to comply with Government backed Governance criteria on equality of representation at the leadership level.
The other proposed Directors are Tom Browne who was originally nominated for one year last year by the Schools section and is now being put forward for a further two years; as well as independent directors Packie Bonner, Robert Watt, and Gary Twohig on a similar timeline.
The main AGM was held at the Mansion House in Dublin in July. Below is the report we carried at the time outlining the main points in ten key numbers…
AGM Report on Sport for Business from July 2022
The FAI hosted its 2022 Annual General Meeting in the Round Room of the Mansion House in Dublin on Saturday and it proved to be a less fiery affair than recent editions.
That is a good thing and there were plenty of positives to emerge including a surplus of revenue over expenditure as well as a lowering of the amount of future monies that were drawn down in order to meet running expenses.
Rather than a report on the technical nature of some of the motions or a repeat of some of the questions that the media continue to ask, yes, from a working perspective the CEO is based here, regardless of where his young family remain; we have chosen instead this morning to relay some of the salient points and the financial figures through the medium of 10 numbers that tell the story, we feel, in an effective manner.
Let’s start with the positive fact that there was a surplus of revenue over expenditure that came to €6.7 Million. Even though this was largely achieved through Government subvention, this second year of Covid restrictions required the same at every Irish sporting body and many organisations beyond our world.
The debt figure carried over from the legacy of previous years remains at an eye-watering €63.5 million with the bulk of that to be paid down, including the primary debt relating to the Aviva Stadium and held by Bank of Ireland over the next 20 years. It is a dark shadow but debt is part of the modern world, the United States is in debt to the tune of $30.5 Trillion, and the way the Association debt is structured gives space for ongoing and increased investment in growing the game.
This is the cash balance that the FAI had on account at the end of 2021. It is one of the factors, along with the guaranteed sizable future income streams that are centralised through UEFA, and the FAI’s own scenario planning that have allowed auditors Grant Thornton to state that “the directors use of the going concern basis of accounting in the preparation of the financial statements is appropriate.” It is an important step forward in the rehabilitation of the Association’s financial credibility
It could be of some concern that the commercial revenues from 2021 actually came in at €1.5 million less than they did in 2020. Finance Director Alex O’Connell confirmed to Sport for Business though, that this was as a result of the UEFA Nations League generating a dividend of this amount in 2020 and again in 2022 but not having been played, due to the Euro 2020 Championships taking place last year.
The number of Female Directors on the FAI Board as of the end of 2021, and as currently remains.
The number of Female directors that will be required under Government guidance to make up a 60/40 gender split on the Board by the end of 2023. Chair Roy Barrett spoke after the meeting of the fact that the Board had agreed this was the right thing to do for the long-term diversity and growth of the sport but it had not yet fully determined the best way of encouraging female talent to step forward for the roles.
The FAI is far from the only sporting organisation to face this challenge but Minister of State Jack Chambers has been forthright in the fact that sports which do not meet the deadline will not be eligible for Government funding.
The number of Directors who it had been proposed would have their tenures extended at the AGM but a decision on which was delayed by three months on the basis in Barrett’s words “this is a decision which will be of real long term importance to the Association and the sport and that there was more to be gained by further review of the Board composition than by adhering to the artificial deadline of an AGM.”
President Gerry McEnaney went further stating that “we have to persuade members to nominate Women for Board positions and we need Men to make space.”
Barrett said that if he felt it was in the best interests of the Association that he would be willing to step down as Chair and have a Female Chair appointed as his replacement.
The additional number of places up for qualification from Europe for the Euro 2024 Finals as was the case for the World Cup Qualifiers leading towards Qatar 2022. Jonathon Hill made the point that coming into a Euro Cycle, therefore, was a more attractive proposition in terms of ticket revenues and appeal to sponsors than would have been the case during the most recent sales cycle seeking to bring on a replacement primary partner for the Men’s International teams.
The revenue brought in through 2021 in ticket sales. Again Jonathon Hill spoke of the importance of this above any other single commercial revenue stream. He also said that once the opposition was known for the Euro 2024 qualifiers that there would be substantial work done on pricing tickets to get the maximum number of fans into the ground but with the potential from premium pricing once the marquee opposition teams were known.
This was the amount of Sponsorship revenue brought in during 2018, the high water mark of Three’s investment. Being without a primary Men’s team partner still leaves a big hole in the accounts but Hill said that a number of positive discussions were being advanced.
Importantly, he also confirmed to Sport for Business that any partner coming on board would have the opportunity for secondary involvement alongside Sky Ireland with the Women’s National Team.