The CEO of the FAI (Football Association of Ireland), Jonathan Hill, has apologised for his role in the payment saga that has brought Ireland's football organisation into another dispute.
This week it was reported that 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.
On Thursday, the FAI issued a statement claiming that such an incident would not happen again, while also asserting that they would implement the changes recommended by Sport Ireland in the Memorandum of Understanding.
Today, Hill has apologised for the payment mistake that he became a part of. Hill recognises that the latest error has once again damaged the FAI's reputation, especially after the John Delaney payment fiasco. Hill knows that any attempts they have to try and rebuild trust between the public and the association will be even harder now.
Hill authored an email to the FAI, saying, “I want to put on record my sincere regret that you heard this first via the media. Especially at a point where we should all be celebrating our Association’s achievements and progress. This is wholly unfair for you as FAI employees, and for this, I apologise unreservedly.”
Jonathan Hill apologises to staff for payment controversy:
“I want to put on record my sincere regret that your heard this first via the media, especially at a point where we should all be celebration our Association’s achievements and progress.”
— Ian Mallon (@ianmallon) November 17, 2023
Hill then addressed two specific areas that he wanted to clarify.
He said, “Firstly, that of Benefit In Kind tax owed on my personal travel and accommodation across 2022. The audit process identified an underpayment against the tax on those expenses, which has now been reviewed in detail internally and with Sport Ireland, and I have paid the balance due in full. Some in the media continue to comment on the fact that my home and family remain in the UK. I want to clarify and confirm that I have been paying all personal travel and accommodation expenses directly since the start of 2023.”
Hill continued, “Secondly, the issue of payment in lieu of holiday not taken - a payment which was made in good faith by the Association to reflect what it felt were 'exceptional circumstances' but which, in hindsight, was neither right in the context of our remuneration policy or indeed in the context of the MOU where we are working so hard to comply with all of the many recommendations. Again, I apologise unreservedly for my part in this error and the negativity and unwanted noise this has caused. I can confirm I have fully accepted the findings of the audit and Board review and have repaid the full amount to the Association.”
Hill added, “I fully appreciate that events of the last few days have impacted efforts to deliver on one of our core objectives, that of rebuilding trust in the Association. I am acutely aware of how much work has gone into that task over the last three years, and I remain immensely proud of our collective progress.”