The Football Association of Ireland’s AGM has learned that the governing body’s responsibilities have increased to over £ 68million as it continues to seek to emerge from the John Delaney era.
This debt figure was until December 2019 and has certainly increased further in the meantime in the midst of Covid-19.
Despite this, President Roy Barrett said the FAI should aspire to be Ireland’s “premier sports organization”.
“This is what we are going to achieve,” he told delegates at the virtually held AGM.
“We have a sport that is represented internationally and competes globally, unlike many of our other competitive sports.
“What has bothered the last few years is the reputation issues of the FAI itself and everything that has happened.
“We are committed to improving this. We are committed to putting in place all appropriate governance structures and management structures and operational structures within the FAI to enable FAI personnel to feel proud of the organization, and to empower those outside the organization. staff to be proud of the organization, to have confidence in it.
“I think Gaelic and Rugby have a good reputation and those reputations are well deserved. I just think we can be as good, if not better.”
“The extremely significant damage to reputation”
Barrett admitted that “the damage to the reputation of the association has been extremely serious”.
“It’s not actually going to change. What will change are the actions and behaviors of the organization. There are a lot of new people involved who don’t care what happened in the past. . “
The mention of Delaney was conspicuous by his absence, with the exception of a reference to her severance package of £ 418,000 which the FAI said was a saving in terms of the additional £ 1.8million she could have having to pay the longtime former general manager.
New managing director Jonathan Hill echoed Barrett’s sentiments when he spoke of the goal of building “a more trustworthy and more respected ISP”.
“We have to stay relevant,” said the former England FA commercial director, appointed in October.
“The pace of change is intense, the complexity of change is significant.”
Keane still a FAI employee
But while “change” was the AGM buzzword, the legacy of the Delaney era has remained pervasive.
The 120 delegates have been told that the FAI will have to pay Sports Direct just over £ 90,000 per month in loan repayments until October 2025 resulting from a sponsorship deal reached in 2018 when Delaney was in charge.
The deal was supposed to start in 2020, but the FAI has requested an advance payment of £ 5.87million and this is now to be repaid after the deal was terminated after Delaney left.
Another financial blow the FAI faces concerns the four-year contract awarded to Robbie Keane when he was appointed assistant to new international boss Mick McCarthy in 2018.
Keane remains under contract with the FAI although there is no obvious role for the country’s record scorer following the arrival of Stephen Kenny and the appointment of his own behind-the-scenes team.
“Robbie is still on the books with a full contract,” added President Barrett.
“Now there’s a commitment that’s going to come to fruition (new GM Hill). It’s possible (he might get a different role). I just don’t know the answer to that question.”