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Ross asks FAI president to withdraw nomination for re-election, stating it is in the 'best interest of football'

In a strongly-worded letter to FAI president Donal Conway, the minister says the upcoming election falls short of the transparency.

Sports Minister Shane Ross
Sports Minister Shane Ross
Image: Rollingnews.ie

SPORTS MINISTER SHANE Ross has asked FAI president Donal Conway to withdraw his unopposed nomination for re-election this weekend.

In a strongly-worded letter to FAI president Donal Conway, the minister states “the process for the upcoming election falls short of the transparency and democracy which we would expect of an organisation seeking to implement good governance practices.”

Ross adds: 

“Contrary to this commitment, you have now been effectively re-elected as President of the FAI- you have been, somewhat unexpectedly, unopposed for this position. This was a reversal of your promise to bring reform to the FAI under a new leadership.

“Together with your decision to appoint former FAI employee and loyalist, Noel Mooney to the post of General Manager, this development means that the new regime has a very old look about it.”

The minister goes on to ask why nominations for election to the posts of President and Vice President were not sought earlier. 

He adds:

Given that you were unopposed and the number of qualifying candidates was restricted to fifty existing FAI Council members, all with a minimum of two years’ service, in the circumstances, I believe it would be worth extending the deadline to accept nominations at least until the end of this week and from beyond the ranks of council members.

Ross states in the letter that it is “beggars belief” that at the upcoming AGM and EGM, a proposal that the quorum for the FAI board be reduced from six to two will be considered.  

“It appears to be an extraordinary proposal which is not included in the Governance Review recommendations. It is difficult to understand how a board of 12 could have a quorum of just two members.

“I believe Sport Ireland have sought clarification around this point and I would appreciate it if you would also explain to me why this amendment has been proposed and how it is in line with good governance principles to apply a quorum of just two board members,” he added. 

While stating that he appreciates the recent work done by Conway, he concludes by asking him to withdraw his nomination “to allow for new leadership with credible reform credentials, in the best interests of football.”

The minister also stated that Conway’s previous commitment the board of FAI to step down and for a new board to be introduced “was the only prudent course of action in the circumstances”. 

In a statement this evening, the Board of the FAI said “only one nomination for the position of President has been forthcoming from AGM members whereas three nominations have been received for the role of Vice President”.

“The independent Governance Review Group, for the FAI Board and Sport Ireland Report,  also states that to be eligible for consideration for the position of President or Vice President of the Interim Board, a nominee should be a serving member of Council and have at least 2 years Council membership experience,” said the statement.

The statement mentions a report from the independent Governance Review Group, which was carried out for the FAI Board and Sport Ireland, which states:

 “The Group consider that, for handover and transition purposes and to manage the serious risks where everyone leaves at once, at least one or possibly a maximum of two members might consider putting themselves forward for positions on the Interim Board.” 

In accordance with the report, endorsed by the FAI and Sport Ireland, two members of the current Board have been nominated by AGM members to stand for the positions of President and Vice-President, said the statement. 

It goes on that the current Board would step down on  27 July and that elections for these roles would take place on the same date. It added that the Board is “fully committed to governance reform”.

The statement added that the “FAI notes the Minister’s ongoing interest in and concern for the game of Association Football and shares the Minister’s desire to improve governance all across the Association”. 

It states the Board and Executive remain in regular contact with Sport Ireland and have met with them on a number of occasions, as recently as today and last Friday. It concludes by stating that the Board will consider the Minister’s letter in full at its next meeting.

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