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Shane Ross: 'We don't trust the FAI, we don't trust them with the money... it's a basket case'

The Sports Minister won’t be appearing before Wednesday’s emergency Oireachtas meeting.

SPORTS MINISTER SHANE Ross has said the government does not currently trust the Football Association of Ireland with funding.

The government is withholding €2.9 million in annual funding to the FAI and won’t restore it until the company is being run in a “satisfactory way”. 

“We don’t trust the FAI, we don’t trust them with the money, we’ve withdrawn from them and we’re not going to give them any government money or taxpayers money,” Ross told Virgin Media News this evening. 

“We must be absolutely certain that we don’t give money to an organisation which is in tatters. And the FAI is, and I think everybody would agree. It’s a basket case, a financial basket case,” Ross said, adding that the extent of the FAI’s debt is still uncertain. 

Last week, the FAI revealed liabilities of over €55 million in a shocking financial report, as the 2018 accounts showed that the association paid a €462,000 settlement to former CEO John Delaney.

In light of this management were called to an emergency Oireachtas Sports Committee meeting on Wednesday but Ross said he will not be in attendance. 

Ross said he does not want to appear until further progress is made on his plan to restore funding to the game’s grassroots. 

“I don’t want to go without the detail of that, I’m going to have a template for them when I go in Wednesday week,” he said. 

Sport Ireland will not be present either, as their Chairman Kieran Mulvey is due to attend a separate Oireachtas Committee meeting at the same time. Sport Ireland are expected to join Minister Ross before the Committee a week later, on Wednesday 18 December. 

The Committee have invited all eight members of the FAI board to the meeting, although none are compelled to attend. The FAI have yet to confirm their line-up for the meeting, and Committee sources have attached particular emphasis to the presence of outgoing president Donal Conway and John Earley, the only remaining board members from John Delaney’s tenure as CEO. 

The Committee also hope to be given at least a redacted version of the independent KOSI audit of the FAI. The report, commissioned by Sport Ireland, has been referred to the gardaí and has not been published under legal advice given to Minister Ross. 

In his interview with Virgin Media News, Ross went on to defend the backing he previously gave John Delaney and the FAI:

“We were all rejoicing in the success of the Irish team. And the success of you know, a success of Irish football. A lot of us didn’t know what was going on at all behind the scenes and of course, that’s unacceptable. So yeah, I think we’ve got to be very, very vigilant in future and that’s what we intend to be.”

- Additional reporting by Gavin Cooney 

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