Sport Ireland Statement: FAI

17 Jul 2020
Caroline O'Mahony

At its meeting today (17th July), the Board of Sport Ireland considered an update on matters relating to the Football Association of Ireland (FAI).

The Board considered the recent joint letter from the new Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport & the Gaeltacht (Deputy Catherine Martin TD) and the then new Minister of State with Responsibility for the Gaeltacht & Sport (Deputy Dara Calleary TD) to the FAI Chairperson (Mr. Roy Barrett).

The Board of Sport Ireland welcomed both Ministers’ clear and unambiguous confirmation that the new Government has no intention of entering into any discussions with the FAI or other stakeholders on the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in January 2020 by then Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport (Deputy Shane Ross) on behalf of the Government of Ireland.  The Board is pleased with the unequivocal statement from both Ministers of their full support for Sport Ireland in working with the FAI to support the association’s overhaul. 

The Board of Sport Ireland considered the immediate steps necessary toward restoration of funding to the FAI.  The Board recognised and endorsed recent progress made by the FAI to improve key aspects of its governance and internal control environment.  The Board also agreed that the relevant rule and constitutional changes committed to by the FAI are required to be implemented in line with the MOU prior to a release of grant funding. 

Sport Ireland Chairman Kieran Mulvey said: “The FAI were weeks away from insolvency at the start of this year. In late January 2020, the future of Irish football was secured when the Government, UEFA and Bank of Ireland agreed a vital funding arrangement to save the FAI.  This multi-stakeholder recovery plan hinges on the FAI delivering absolutely essential governance reforms in the coming weeks. The progress made by the FAI in recent months is welcome and must be safeguarded and built on.  There can be no return to the well-publicised financial and governance crisis.”

Speaking today, Sport Ireland CEO John Treacy added: “Sport Ireland has not paid out any of the €5.8m grant funding to the FAI in 2020 to date.  Furthermore, no funding is scheduled to be paid in advance of the FAI’s EGM.  To avail of the funding support, the FAI is aware of the need to make the essential amendments to its rules and constitution in line with its commitments in the MOU. These changes are also required as a pre-requisite to the FAI applying to Sport Ireland for any portion of the additional €70 million of new Government funding to support the sports sector through the COVID-19 crisis.”

It is important that we look forward to a re-invigoration of Irish football and a time when funding can be restored to support the vital work at community level and developing the game at all levels.”