Minister for Sport confirms FAI board to step down

Minister for Sport confirms FAI board to step down

MINISTER FOR Sport Shane Ross has confirmed the entire Football Association of Ireland (FAI) board will resign by July in the wake issues concerning the financial governance of the organisation.

The decision comes after it emerged financial auditors Deloitte filed a notice with the Companies Registration Office (CRO) stating that the FAI has failed to maintain proper accounting records.

An H4 form has been filed – the first of its kind to be filed in Ireland this year and one of only four to be filed since the start of 2018 -  relating to the failure to keep proper accounts and, if proven correct, could amount to a serious matter for those involved with fines of up to €500,000 or even custodial sentences of up to 10 years.

The regulatory filings came amid concerns the FAI failed to keep adequate accounting records and ahead of a hearing of the Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport examining governance within the FAI.

According to the Press Association, Minister for Sport Shane Ross said the FAI has "indicated that the board will step down".

The plan is to hold an emergency meeting in July or, failing that, an extraordinary general meeting before that date.

“I welcome that the FAI is engaging with Sport Ireland in a process, and that they have now indicated that the board will step down. I believe that an EGM should be called before the July date, as soon as the active investigations have been concluded, to facilitate a transition to a new board by way of transparent elections.

Minister Ross was critical of the “shambolic” appearance the FAI made at a committee hearing last week, noting that “even the most basic questions went unanswered".

“I am pleased to confirm to the committee that the FAI will take ‘decisive action’ on the issue,” he added.

Ross went on to read a letter from FAI president Donal Conway where the organisation apologised for any embarrassment its appearance at the committee last week had caused.

In the letter, Conway, stated that "in relation to the Board structure, we have engaged with Sport Ireland in relation to both membership of and terms of reference for a new Governance Group which will, amongst other issues, bring forward proposals for the restructuring of the Board and other governance requirements."

The letter also outlined the FAI’s plans to offer "recommendations in relation to re-structuring the board will be brought to the membership for their consideration" in the meeting set for July.

"At that point, when a new structure has been put in place, it is the intention that the existing Board will step down to allow for a new Board to be constituted in the interests of football."

Though Minister Ross welcomed the board’s plans to step down he is calling for an EGM before the July date “as soon as the active investigations have been concluded, to facilitate a transition to a new board by way of transparent elections."

He added that the FAI would receive "no further Government funding" until "reform in the association’s corporate governance” and the FAI give  “credible answers."

Despite describing the developments as a “crisis for the FAI” Minister Ross felt the change could serve as an "opportunity to develop an inclusive vision for the development of soccer in Ireland".

Sport Ireland CEO John Treacy has also confirmed that a "full audit" of the FAI will take place, regardless of any reforms.