Members of the FAI Board are to hold discussions with different groups ahead of next month’s AGM with a view to finding a solution to the impasse caused by a failure at last week’s EGM to ratify changes to the constitution relating to the Board.
In a statement issued this afternoon the Board, which met last night, said that it “noted the comments made by Minister of State at the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Thomas Byrne where he clearly outlined the requirement to maintain a 50:50 ratio of Football Directors to Independent Directors into 2024 and beyond for the FAI to secure the full financial support of Government.”
The proposed expansion of the Board by two to 14 would enable two new female directors to be proposed at the AGM and therefore comply by the deadline of the end of the year with the other requirement of all sporting bodies to have a minimum 60:40 gender split on leadership groups.
The FAI currently has four women directors – Catherine Guy, Liz Joyce, Maeve McMahon and Niamh O’Mahony. Adding two would mean a move from 33% to 43%.
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Failure to meet this deadline would raise the spectre of withholding of funding which could run to millions, as well as exclusion from Government grant funding such as the Sports Capital and Large Scale Sports Infrastructure process. Nobody wants to see this.
Internal factions in the FAI have accepted the benefit of a gender-balanced board but are railing against the two new directors coming from externally, preferring to put forward candidates from within the ‘football family.’
This is what will now be discussed in meetings ahead of the December AGM. The Government view though seems to be allowing little wriggle room on the independent ratio, and none on the gender balance.
The FAI statement says “It is the FAI Board’s intention to meet the requirements outlined by the Government.”
Further complicating matters is the question over additional payments to CEO Jonathan Hill, in breach of the Government memorandum of understanding.
This was also discussed at the Board and the statement said “The Board regret what happened and are committed to ensuring the lessons learned are fully adopted. The Board and the Executive team fully accept the recommendations of the report from Sport Ireland and are committed to implementing the recommendations immediately.”
There was no further comment on whether money would need to be paid back but that would be a private matter to be resolved.