FAI confirm they have met with Shane Ross again
A step in the right direction?
Executive lead of the FAI Paul Cooke confirmed to media this afternoon that the FAI has met Shane Ross and his department since the much-publicised meeting at Leinster House on Monday 16th December and the Oireachtas committee meeting two days later.
Speaking after the reconvened AGM in Citywest Hotel this afternoon, Cooke revealed that there had been a meeting between the two parties as the FAI attempt to secure government funding for the beleaguered organisation. It comes as Minister Ross is set to meet UEFA in early January, and Cooke outlined how the FAI see things moving forward;
"It’s probably a partnership approach… Ourselves, our banks, UEFA and government. It’s going to be a three to four way partnership… We met government a week to ten days ago, we’ve met them subsequently. We had a very constructive, workman-like meeting and we are scheduling another meeting shortly... This one was a very constructive, workmanlike meeting where we engaged in trying to address the issues. At the moment that is a bi-lateral meeting between UEFA and government. But, the intention that we would have is that we try and get all the stakeholders together around that date, as I said, ourselves, the bank, government and UEFA."
It comes as the FAI earlier issued a stark warning to members earlier in the day in relation to the emergency government funding they asked for just a few weeks ago.
Speaking at the reconvened AGM in Citywest this afternoon, Mr. Cooke and Outgoing President Donal Conway were blunt in their appraisals of the FAI’s chances of survival if the government continues to refuse the €18 million bailout requested at government buildings in mid-December.
The proposed financial roadmap put in place by the FAI for the next five years would, they claim, see the organization “cash-positive” by 2022/23. That plan, as stressed by the FAI's Financial Director Alex O'Connell, is contingent on the €18 million coming from the government, however.
When questioned by members about the potential ramifications of the money not being made available, the comments from the board were stark; “there is no definitive answer to that, but it is very serious”. When pushed for further clarification, particularly if outstanding debts were to be called in immediately, the response from the FAI was that “there is an equal possibility of liquidation as there is examinership”.
Should the FAI enter into examinership, or liquidation, that raises the possibility of international teams being unable to fulfil fixtures, including the Senior men’s EURO 2020 Qualification Semi-Final against Slovakia in March. Donal Conway confirmed that should the FAI not receive the money and they were to enter into examinership, “it questions our membership of FIFA, UEFA... (and) international competitions”.
Speaking at an Oireachtas committee meeting on 18th December, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross said he wanted to avoid such a scenario “at all costs”. However, he also was unequivocal when asked about potentially providing the embattled association with a potential bailout, saying that he “made it clear we cannot and will not provide them with taxpayers’ money”.
Guess who cooked my goose? The FAI? The Judges? The Vintners ? pic.twitter.com/yXptsFUJdw
— Shane Ross (@Ross_Shane1) December 26, 2019
Ross came in for criticism over the Christmas period when he tweeted a picture of himself with a cooked goose and the caption "guess who cooked my goose? The FAI? The judges? The vintners?". Conway also responded to a question from SportsJOE today about that tweet and whether Ross has been using the FAI crisis to score political points with an election around the corner;
"I really don’t make comments on Minister Ross. I know the particular question that you are referring to did cause a lot of anger and a lot of upset. The motivation for it, or what the relevant politician seeks out of it I will leave that up to other people."