FAI: Sports Minister Shane Ross says football body asked government for 18m euro bailout
Irish Sports Minister Shane Ross has revealed that the Football Association of Ireland asked the government for an 18 million euro [£15.3m] bailout.
Minister Ross was speaking at a parliamentary committee meeting in Dublin on Wednesday.
The minister described the request as “shocking” and said the government made it “absolutely clear” the FAI would not get the funds.
The FAI's 29m euro [£24.7m] debt on the Aviva Stadium was also discussed.
Mr Ross revealed that the Department of Sport will meet the Irish Rugby Football Union on Thursday to talk about the Dublin venue after Fianna Fail TD Marc MacSharry asked if the rugby governing body could take total ownership of the stadium, in return for potentially taking on the debt.
The minister, who has been critical of the FAI's governance in recent weeks, expressed his concerns about the future of the League of Ireland given the financial crisis at the FAI.
“My guess is if the FAI goes, the League of Ireland goes the same way. I think that is absolutely inevitable.” he said.
For the second time in two weeks, the FAI had refused an invitation to attend a committee meeting to discuss its finances and governance.
Mr Ross said he was “dismayed” at the governing body not attending, with the FAI's reason being that it needed to focus exclusively on its troubled finances as well as promised governance reforms.
Earlier this month, the FAI released its annual accounts which revealed that it had liabilities of more than 55 million euro, and that former chief executive John Delaney had been given a severance package of 462,000 euro.
The minister also told the Oireachtas Sport Committee that the recent independent audit into the FAI which has been passed on to the Gardai had stated that the Republic of Ireland's football governing body “is not fit to handle public funds”.
This independent audit has not been made available to the parliamentary committee amid the Gardai's ongoing enquiries.
“I have also consulted with An Garda Síochána, who have advised me that matters outlined in the KOSI report are central to their investigations and those of the ODCE, and that to make the report public at this time could have serious implications for any criminal proceedings subsequently brought by the DPP,” said the minister.
On Tuesday, FAI chief operating officer Rea Walshe said it was not in a position to attend because the board's “undivided attention” needed to be focused on “the financial restructuring necessary to safeguard jobs, the FAI's financial future and the appointment of an Independent Chairperson and three Independent Directors”.
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