It’s a big week for the FAI on and off the field of play.
This evening the Association will hold an Extraordinary General Meeting where the question will be put to Council members on whether or not to accept the Memorandum of Understanding signed with Government back in January.
If two-thirds of those tuning in remotely to hear from the leadership at Abbotstown vote yes then the money held by Sport Ireland in behalf of the Government can start to flow, the appointment of a new permanent CEO can accelerate and the minds of fans can switch to events in Bulgaria and Germany as teams start back in the green jersey.
Discussions with potential successors to Three as primary commercial partners can move to a next level and reform can continue so as to put behind it the last horrendous 18 months of financial and governance turmoil.
If that does not happen then all of the above will be thrown into the air for tomorrow’s planned Board meeting to try and put back together.
It is likely that the motion will pass but not a certainty.
The Government Ministers responsible, Catherine Martin and Jack Chambers wrote to the FAI on Saturday to allow wriggle room on the continued service of those who might have served ten years in roles on the FAI Council.
The FAI had highlighted “the importance of retaining experienced persons with the necessary key skillsets which will be required during the next 18-24 months when there will be significant changes in the Association.”
It’s a compromise which will allow time but which, by 2022 will still deliver a new look to those charged with the primary football input to the running of the sport. Council will become a General Assembly but control at Board level will now rest with the President as opposed to the Independent Chairman, another concession on what was demanded in the immediate rush of anger after the reality of the FAI’s problems became apparent.
The EGM will vote to roll over the timing of the AGM, hopefully to no later than October so that the newly appointed auditors can approve the accounts for the past year and accept the FAI in a business sense as a going concern.
There will be heated discussion around the roles of committees and the Board, as well as the position of Roy Barrett and the other Independent Board members that were appointed at the turn of the year.
Much behind the scenes conversation has taken place over recent weeks with a view to making sure that tonight goes as smoothly as possible and that the work of reform and a move towards a better future can continue.
It seems that the Government and Sport Ireland are onside, that UEFA and FIFA are onside and that the fans and players want the focus to switch back to sporting matches rather than political games.
Tonight will determine whether those who have governed in the past and those who would do so in the future can find enough common ground to make that happen.