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Shane Ross says government will 'look at' proposal to split FAI

A plan has been created by FAI members to split the organisation into two sections, the Irish Independent has reported.

Shane Ross responding to media questions last week.
Shane Ross responding to media questions last week.
Image: RollingNews.ie

THE GOVERNMENT WILL “look at” a proposal to split the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) into two different governing bodies. 

Members of the FAI have devised a proposal to split the organisation into two sections – one governing body with fewer responsibilities and another body looking after the grassroots, community and development side, the Irish Independent first reported. 

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland today, Minister for Sport Shane Ross said the government will “look at any suggestion” that comes forward.

“What we are doing at the moment is we are looking after the 2.9 million [euro] which we have been giving to the FAI,” Ross said. 

“We have withdrawn that funding and what we’re going to do there is we’re going to ensure that gets to the small clubs, we’re going to absolutely ensure that gets to the players, to the grassroots, but doesn’t go near the FAI.

We want to protect taxpayer’s funding and we also want to protect the grassroots. They’re the important people. We’re interested in football, not so interested in the FAI. 

“Nobody should look at [the government] as just going to come in and bail out an organisation which is coming to us with a black hole, the extent of which we can’t know,” Ross said. 

The minister said he has not spoken with members of the FAI in several months because some old board members remain. He said he is waiting for a new independent CEO, board of directors and chairman to be appointed. 

“The FAI is reluctant to change. It hasn’t been changed, its board hasn’t even been totally cleared out,” he said. 

Last week, the FAI announced that its president Donal Conway would be stepping down on 25 January. It was also revealed that the organisation has current net liabilities of over €55 million, as disclosed in its accounts for 2018. 

The Irish Independent reported today that Brian Kerr and Niall Quinn have offered their input to the proposal. 

Kerr said on Tuesday that some FAI employees had put forward a “very interesting proposal” to him. 

“I was very impressed with what they showed me as a proposal for the future, but, in the short term, their jobs need to be saved. That’s the most crucial thing at the moment,” Kerr said on a Virgin Media Sport panel. 

Gardaí are currently investigating after the FAI reported receiving a number of suspicious letters to its headquarters in Abbotstown in Dublin. 

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