Friday, December 06, 2019

The Football Association of Ireland’s total liabilities could be in excess of the €55m figure revealed by the organisation yesterday, its executive lead has warned.

Paul Cooke — a long-time critic of former FAI CEO John Delaney — confirmed that further investigations into the association could reveal more liabilities.

“Standing here presenting these results actually gives me no pleasure at all,” Mr Cooke told a press conference at FAI HQ in Abbotstown, Dublin, where the association published its accounts.

It’s a lot of what I would have said, but it was probably worse than what I would have thought.

He moved to allay fears for the association’s future after auditor Deloitte said it was “unable to obtain sufficient audit evidence to support the assumption that the company will continue as a going concern”.

“The standard that the auditors require is they need actual evidence that we have refinancing in place,” said Mr Cooke. “We are in very advanced stages of refinancing the business, very close, but we don’t have sufficient evidence yet for the auditors, hence, they disclaimed opinion on that. The second point is around unrecorded liabilities. As you can appreciate, there are a number of investigations ongoing, which could throw up additional liabilities, hence their disclaimer of opinion.”

Donal Conway, who announced his decision to step down as FAI president just hours before the press conference, said he was “disappointed” with the figures.

“I wasn’t aware that the financial situation was as stark as presented today,” he said. “The board I was a member of as a collective did not do its job well. I would say that that’s recognised. I took a lot of things on trust, the information that I was being given. So I think you have to look at it then and look at it now with the full picture as I see it today.”

    Among revelations are:

  • In September, the FAI agreed a settlement with former CEO John Delaney worth €462,000;
  • €1.9m was paid out in 2018 for early termination of contracts, primarily to the former Irish men’s team management led by Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane;
  • The association will look to remortgage its debt on the Aviva Stadium until 2034.
  • Sports Minister Shane Ross said: “The debt figure of €55m is pretty horrifying and pretty scary, a terrible reflection of the state of affairs that the FAI is in.
  • “I’ve heard some pretty awful stories but I didn’t think it was as bad as that.

    “We have made it absolutely clear that we will not be restoring State funding until we are absolutely certain that they comply with normal corporate governance rules.”

    He said of Mr Conway’s decision to step down next month: “I welcome the resignation of Donal Conway. I’m sorry it didn’t happen a little earlier. But I think it is imperative that the FAI now recognises, and I think it’s beginning to recognise, the fact that it’s time to clear out the old guard and clear it out completely.

    “I hope that this heralds a new chapter in the history of the FAI, which includes the appointment and rapid appointment of the independent directors and the appointment also of a totally independent chief executive.”

    Independent senator Pádraig Ó Céidigh, a member of the Oireachtas committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport, has requested an emergency meeting of the committee, which intends to invite the FAI, Sport Ireland, and Mr Ross to attend.

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    FAI Revised Annual Accounts 2017

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