FAI Director and senior Public Servant Robert Watt is expected to be confirmed today as the new Secretary-General at the Department of Health.

He is moving to the key role from the same position at the Department of Public Expenditure.

Watt was the last of the independent directors named to take up a position on the FAI Board in the summer of 2020 and was part of the group that steered through acceptance of the Memorandum of Understanding that freed up finance from the Government, Sport Ireland and the Bank of Ireland.

There was criticism at the time of a potential conflict of interest between having a senior public servant on the board, even in a personal capacity, and having Government funding but that faded away.

Now there will be an undoubted question raised over the desire of sport to open up as quickly as possible once it is safe to do so from a public health perspective.

It is unlikely, given the gravity of the decisions which will be waiting at his new desk, that Watt will be able to devote as much time as might have been imagined to the FAI position, but it is also stretching things to suggest he will be in a position to give sport a helping hand in terms of opening up stadia or indeed allowing a return to play.

He will have an educated voice over those decisions when the time is right, which can only be a good thing for sport in an overall context.

Watt is an underage coach in his local soccer club in Dublin, as Tony Holohan is or at least was in his local GAA club.

The volunteer roles that people take up in their private lives should be seen as contributing to their overall personality and understanding of the issues that are important on the ground.  That also can only be a good thing when it comes to decision making at the highest level.



Sport for Business Partners