FAI aim to 'learn lessons' around Hill payment fault

FAI aim to 'learn lessons' around Hill payment fault

The FAI (Football Association of Ireland) has claimed that they are committed to "learning their lessons" around an incident where Chief Executive Jonathan Hill received payments outside an agreement set out in the Memorandum of Understanding between the government and the FAI, which led to the association's bailout in 2020. 

A Sport Ireland-commissioned audit found that the FAI's CEO Hill received payments, which were made to him in lieu of holidays not taken, and expenses related to commuting from the UK, were above an agreed limit. Hill has agreed to pay back the money owed. 

The FAI has now issued a statement claiming that an incident will not happen again, while also claiming that they will implement the changes that Sport Ireland has recommended. 

The FAI's statement on Thursday read: "The Board of the Football Association of Ireland met yesterday evening to discuss the recent issues surrounding the compliance of the Association with respect to the Memorandum of Understanding with the Government. 

"Regarding the MOU clause relating to CEO remuneration, the Board has conducted a full and detailed review of the issue with the Executive. The Board regrets what happened and is committed to ensuring the lessons learned are fully adopted. 

"The Board and the Executive team fully accept the recommendations of the report from Sport Ireland and are committed to implementing the recommendations immediately." 

The FAI did not secure the necessary 75% majority to pass a proposal for a constitutional change allowing the addition of two female members to its board several weeks ago. 

This is seen as a violation of the Memorandum of Understanding, which mandates 40% female representation on the board by year-end. Minister of State for Sport Thomas Byrne cautioned the FAI about a potential 50% funding cut for projects next year unless they fulfil promised governance reforms. 155 of 163 agreed reforms had been implemented to date. 

The FAI, in their statement, also said they aimed to improve its gender diversity by 40% by the end of the year. The same statement says that the FAI will discuss any solutions they can find with the government on the matters left to resolve. 

"The Board also discussed the decision taken at the EGM on November 9th, not to approve changes to the Constitution that would have enabled the FAI to achieve its 40% female gender representation by the end of 2023. 

"The Board has noted the subsequent comments made by Minister of State at the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Thomas Byrne where he clearly outlined the requirement to maintain a 50:50 ratio of Football Directors to Independent Directors into 2024 and beyond for the FAI to secure the full financial support of the Government. 

"The FAI Board will consult with a cross-section of members in the coming days to discuss potential solutions so that recommendations can be brought forward."