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FAI "Regret" Contents Of Letter Sent To Sport Ireland Ahead Of Oireachtas Hearing

FAI "Regret" Contents Of Letter Sent To Sport Ireland Ahead Of Oireachtas Hearing
By Aaron Strain

Another day, another FAI statement and it's hard to tell if this is an apology or not. It certainly doesn't contain the word "sorry".

But President Donal Conway at least admitted the Association's "regret" at not being able to make more information available to Sport Ireland ahead of their meeting with the Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport last Wednesday in a statement released today.

The Football Association of Ireland has advised its attendance list for Wednesday’s meeting of the Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport.

All requested members of the FAI are included on the list. The Association notes comments made by Sport Ireland and the Oireachtas Committee and acknowledges their concerns.

Further, the Association recognises and shares the desire for the matters to be addressed as soon as possible, with due regard to the different ongoing processes. The Board acknowledges the misgivings raised by Sport Ireland and the Oireachtas Committee last week and is also cognisant of the concerns of the Football Family and all stakeholders.

The Board is seeking to fully address all concerns in a determined and transparent manner and many steps are being taken to do so and to establish the requisite detail for Sport Ireland and the Oireachtas Committee. As well as the Board establishing a sub-committee to lead the work, the global auditing and consulting group Mazars has been commissioned to conduct an independent and in-depth external review of matters.

The Association's advisors are working with Mazars to finalize the terms of reference for the review so work can begin. The Board has also requested that this review be completed as soon as possible.

Pending the review by Mazars, the Association has separately and urgently engaged Grant Thornton to conduct an internal review of the Association’s books, records and ledgers. Grant Thornton are on site at FAI HQ since Tuesday, April 2.

I regret that we were not in a position to assist Sport Ireland with answers to its questions before it attended the Committee last Wednesday. The FAI is engaging with Sport Ireland and communicated at a meeting with Sport Ireland on Friday evening that no disrespect was intended by the lateness of the letter of the 2nd of April or its brief contents. I accept more information would have assisted Sport Ireland and the Committee and I regret that it could not be provided before their meeting.

The Association has advised Sport Ireland that we are moving as fast as we can, being mindful of the complexity involved and the need to ensure that all statements we make are accurate and processes are fair and robust. We also advised that some recent comments made by the FAI did not accurately reflect the Board’s level of awareness of the existence of the €100,000 issue in 2017. This matter is being considered by the Board sub-committee.

The steps outlined are taking time. Meanwhile, the Association has offered to meet Sport Ireland’s audit staff and, with the assistance of Grant Thornton, to go through the relevant accounts to assure Sport Ireland that all Government funding has been properly spent since the last Sport Ireland audit of the FAI.

The FAI has also been in correspondence with the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement and remains available to assist in dealing with its particular inquiries.

I look forward now to engaging with Committee members on Wednesday as we seek to address all issues raised.

Statement from FAI President, Donal Conway

Having been called to attend last week's meeting to discuss 'funding granted by Sport Ireland to the Football Association of Ireland and related matters', it's CEO John Treacy cut a frustrated figure when relaying that a letter received from the FAI the morning of the meeting, failed in shedding any further light on the reasons for a loan of €100,000 to the Association by then Chief Exec, John Delaney.

Treacy confirmed that any future funding allocated to the FAI for the remainder of the year was to be withheld until the issues were resolved and today Conway expressed "regret" at having put Sport Ireland in such a position last Wednesday.

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Whilst acknowledging the "concerns" of both Sport Ireland and the Oireachtas Committee, and that of the "Football Family and all it's stakeholders", the President reiterated the Association's intentions to conduct an external review, confirming that it had commissioned world-renowned consulting group Mazars to undertake "an independent and in-depth external review of matters."

In so far as THAT letter, Conway conceded that the contents offered to Sport Ireland had been scant, but that "no disrespect was intended by the lateness...or brief content".

The statement concludes that the FAI are willing to sit down with Treacy, alongside their internal review team headed by accountants Grant Thornton "to assure Sport Ireland that all Government funding has been properly spent since the last Sport Ireland audit of the FAI."

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