Long serving football official, Gerry Gorman, has told Meath Live that the FAI council should continue to have the final say in the administration of the game.
A meeting will take place at the Red Cow Hotel in Dublin this coming Friday at which delegates will vote on two proposals which have brought about heated debate.
The first is the removal of any Council member with more than 10 years’ service while the second, which has proved most controversial, is the changing of the composition of the FAI Board to consist of six directors elected from football constituencies and another six independent directors. That split is presently eight/four.
In the event of a split vote, the independent chairperson has a casting vote.
The rules must be passed by a two-thirds majority at an EGM to be adopted.
And Gorman is vehemently opposed to the suggestions.
Speaking in a purely personal capacity, he said, ‘ Under no circumstances should football people cede the authority to others as to how the game is run here in Ireland
‘I understand the financial implications of not passing the two motions for discussion but does anyone seriously believe the government will allow the whole football set up here to collapse due to lack of funding.
‘The onus should be put back on the government to work something out that will satisfy all parties.’
Pressure has been mounting on all council officials to back the proposals and this week all of them received the following letter from current council chairman Roy Barrett.
4th August 2020
Dear Council Member, I hope you and your families are keeping safe and healthy in these difficult times. As you know, we have arranged a special meeting of the FAI Council for this Friday 7th August.
We have reached a critical point in terms of the future shape and direction of our Association and in the coming weeks, we have some defining decisions to make. These decisions will be critical to the future of the FAI and football in Ireland.
It is against this backdrop that I wanted to write to you ahead of our meeting. You are aware that our Association is in a very difficult financial position which resulted in negotiating a significant loan to ensure that we remained solvent.
The terms were agreed primarily with Bank of Ireland and supported by the Government, Sport Ireland, and UEFA. The terms of the financial package required the Association to commit to a number of governance reforms required by these stakeholders and the Board.
All three bodies have made it very clear that the delivery of these reforms is a strict condition and that without their delivery, the financial package necessary for the survival of the FAI will not happen.
The Board approved these requirements and the loan agreement with Bank of Ireland.
The impact of Covid-19 has added an additional financial challenge for our Association and once again, we have to seek financial support to ensure the continued viability of the Association.
However, this time we are not alone and have sought support along with other sporting organisations who have also been devastated by the impact of the virus.
The Board has also been working on developing a new strategy for the Association which will help deal with the current challenges that all of us in the Association face. A significant piece of research was completed as part of this process to establish our starting position. The results clearly confirmed that we have a lot of work to do to rebuild our reputation which has been severely damaged in recent years.
Our poor profile among key stakeholders, sponsors, and the general public has had a significant impact on our reputation which seriously damages our ability to generate the finances required to invest in our Association.
At the meeting on Friday, we will include details of our strategy and our restructuring plans for the Association. We have used external professional expertise to help guide us on this journey.
The Board must now implement the remaining governance reforms required to the Constitution to support our strategy, our restructure and our commitments to our financial partners.
Over the last three months, we have been engaged with all of our stakeholders to agree a number of important reforms that are required to improve our reputation and give our financial partners and sponsors the confidence that we have proper structures in place to enable them to invest in the Association.
Both FIFA and UEFA were involved at all stages of the discussions and we now believe we have achieved an outcome acceptable to all stakeholders while maintaining the sovereignty of the Association.
Consequently, we will be proposing a number of changes to the rules of the FAI and the Constitution to ensure that we can meet these requirements and support our new strategy and restructuring plans. In arriving at the proposed changes, there are a number of key principles that we have adopted:
• The AGM is the supreme and legislative body of the FAI – it will have ultimate control • All applicants for Board and Committees should be subject to a fit and proper assessment to include having no conflict of interest and must have the appropriate skillsets for the role
• Our structure should reflect the correct democratic membership base • We should use and adopt best practice from UEFA / FIFA on constitutional design • There will be 12 Directors on the Board, of which 6 will be Independent Directors, a minimum of 3 of whom will be women who also possess some of the range of diverse skills required by an effective Board.
• The Board of Directors will be fully accountable to the AGM, the supreme and legislative body These changes will make the FAI a better organisation and will ensure we get the financial support we need to survive. I believe we should all support them for that reason.
However, it is vital that the implications of not supporting them are also made very clear: State funding will end which will result in the FAI becoming insolvent with the following potential consequences: • Agreements with all clubs and leagues throughout Ireland will be voided • Membership of FIFA and UEFA in its current format will expire • Our shares in the Aviva Stadium will be seized • Some or all of our staff will lose their jobs • There will be no capital investment in our facilities • Risk to the staging of Euro 2020 in Dublin • No opportunity to bid for future international competitions at all levels
Last week, the Board of the FAI met with our relevant Government Ministers and both Ministers made it very clear that a failure on our part to implement the governance changes the Board committed to will mean there will be no Government funding. We all need to fully understand the implications of this.
In addition, the proposed changes are fully approved by both UEFA / FIFA and I attach a joint letter from them to confirm their support which includes a proposed resolution.
As you know, the Council meeting will take place in the Red Cow Hotel at 4.00pm on Friday 7th August where we will present the restructuring plan and update you on the proposed changes to the Rules and Constitution.
Two rooms have been organised to ensure that we meet the Covid 19 protocols and have a face to face meeting.
This is a critical time in the history of our Association. As I said at the outset, we have important decisions to make which will determine the future of the FAI.
We have a responsibility to everyone involved in football in Ireland to secure the future of our organisation and to build a bright future for Irish football.
Roy Barrett Chairperson