FAI promises to take 'urgent steps' to restore confidence as pressure mounts
Last Updated: 15/04/19 9:55am
The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) says it is taking "many urgent steps" to address governance and financial issues as pressure on the governing body grows.
On Sunday, Ireland's Minister for Sport Shane Ross warned the FAI that they risk losing out on large capital sports grants if they do not answer questions over governance.
That came after John Delaney refused to answer questions at an Oireachtas Committee hearing on Wednesday regarding a €100,000 loan he gave the association in 2017 or about his 14 years as chief executive. He said legal advice precluded him from doing so.
In the aftermath, Ross said the FAI have "very serious questions to answer".
Ross told RTE News: "The FAI have not answered the questions that were necessary. They have not answered questions on corporate governance.
"We have to look at how they are running the sporting body. It seems to me those questions have to be answered. If they are not answered, we will take the necessary action."
The FAI issued a statement in response later on Sunday which said: "The Board of the Football Association of Ireland notes the comments made today by the Minister for Tourism, Transport and Sport, Shane Ross, and by Deputy Fergus O'Dowd, chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Sport.
"The Association wishes to assure all parties that it is taking many urgent steps to address its current governance and financial issues. The Board of the Association will meet again tomorrow to review these steps.
"The FAI has also commissioned the financial firm Mazars to undertake an independent review and the Board will move as quickly as possible to adopt any recommendations of corrective action necessary."
Earlier this week, Sport Ireland decided to suspend funding to the FAI due to its failure to disclose the €100,000 loan by Delaney to the association.
The FAI has admitted it breached the terms of its grant which included a stipulation that any material deterioration in a sporting body's finances must be notified to Sport Ireland.
The statement added: "The FAI has offered Sport Ireland the opportunity to assure itself that all government funding provided to the FAI was and continues to be used in the appropriate manner.
"The Association continues to work to restore the trust of its stakeholders including the Minister and Sport Ireland as soon as possible. The FAI wants to ensure that all those who play football across Ireland do not suffer as a result of the actions of the Association.
"The Board of the FAI acknowledges that the €2.7m (£2.3m) funding Sport Ireland provides to the FAI and the Sports Capital Grants, also funded by the taxpayer, are crucial to football and every step will be taken to ensure these continue at the earliest time possible.
"In response to Deputy O'Dowd's comments, the FAI confirms it had undertaken to come back to the Oireachtas Committee regarding information they had sought during the hearing last Wednesday evening. As stated on Friday, the FAI has researched that information and will respond to the Committee by close of business tomorrow."
The FAI did not mention Delaney, who moved to a new role of executive vice-president at the FAI shortly after details of the loan were first reported.
The pressure on Delaney to step down increased over the weekend as The Sunday Times reported he spent almost €40,000 (£35,540) on his work credit card in the last six months of 2016.
He is reported to have used the FAI credit card to pay for duty-free purchases at airports, meals in his local pub and to make cash withdrawals of more than €6,000 (£5,180) in six months.