The FAI is about to lose over €1.4 million, following the suspended funding by Sport Ireland to the association after concerns that the state funding rules were not obeyed. Sports Ireland took its responsibility as the administrators of the taxpayer’s money seriously and moved to withhold and suspend future funding. Many questions remain focussed around the €100,000 payment that was made by John Delaney, the former chief executive to the FAI in April of 2017.
Bridging Loan to Address Cash-Flow Issue
The payment in question was labelled at the time as a bridging loan; the purpose was to address some cash-flow issue, although Sport Ireland was never notified. The statutory body’s decision puts even more pressure on the FAI, which plans on sending a delegation of officials including Delaney and president Donal Conway, to meet with the committee. The Irish Independent revealed that Mr Conway, in his opening statement addressed the committee and explained that the organisation did not communicate the content or circumstance to Sport Ireland in 2017. The organisation is to set up new procedures to ensure that it is compliant with the stipulations and clauses of Sport Ireland.
On-Site Review by Grand Thornton
Of the estimated €2.9 million funding, Sport Ireland has paid out 50%to the FAI and considers the lifting of the suspension once all reviews are completed. As the details regarding the load worth €100,000 emerge, two reviews were triggered, Grand Thornton is on-site to review and audit the records and ledgers of the FAI. While the FAI contracted Mazars.
In the meanwhile, other information emerged and Fine Gael TD Noel Rock, always a John Delaney critic, revealed that he asked the former CEO of the FAI for assistance to gain access to tickets for the March and October football matches in 2017. Mr Rock texted Mr Delaney in November, and the text said that he was pleased to push back against TD Catherine Murphy. It was then the chief of the FAI was required to appear before the Tourism, Transport and Sports Committee, although when asked, Mr Rock could not recall the exchange of such a text message.
Troy Demand Comprehensive Answers Regarding the €100,000 Loan
The FAI expressed disappointment at the suspending fund decision, although Mr Conway felt it was crucial to the development of Ireland football. According to Conway, the organisation is eager to rebuild the relationship and restore the confidence with Sport Ireland. He was also confident that with the processes in place it would be possible for the FAI to satisfy the requirements and standards of Sport Ireland on finance and governance issues, ensuring that funds could be restored. A secret memo informed all staff that it was business as usual regardless of the Sport Ireland decision. Robert Troy wants comprehensive answers, and the organisation’s members face questions on the level of awareness the board had regarding the 2017 €100,000 loan.