January 15 – A rescue package to save the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) from complete collapse has moved a step closer following survival talks between Irish officials and UEFA.
The embattled FAI, desperately looking for a financial bailout, is struggling under €60 million of debt built up under former FAI chief executive John Delaney who resigned from the national governing body but still maintains a seat on UEFA’s executive committee.
Last week the FAI appointed Roy Barrett, managing director at Goodbody Stockbrokers, as the board’s new independent chairperson and Irish reports said he and other officials met a four-person UEFA delegation on Tuesday to discuss the way forward.
The meeting included UEFA general secretary, Theodore Theodoridis, and afterwards Shane Ross, Ireland’s minister for sport, said a package to prevent the FAI from folding could happen “fairly soon.”
Ross was tight-lipped on the details of any potential deal, but told reporters that “there is going to be an intensive round of talks over the next few days.”
He anticipated another meeting with UEFA “within days”, and if that progresses well, four parties – the government, FAI, UEFA and Bank of Ireland – will be brought around the same table for final discussions.
“UEFA showed an enormous amount of goodwill,” said Ross. “They recognised their role as a stakeholder and their commitment there and the future of Irish football.
“I’m not going into details of exactly what they said as it’s very delicate at the moment but you can take it that everybody sees they will have skin in the game here and everybody is united in ensuring there will be a solution that is shared.
“I don’t think [a solution] is a long way away. I think we’re talking about a very intensive time of negotiations and talks between the four parties in the next few days. I don’t think we’re talking about months or weeks, I think we’re talking about something happening fairly soon and getting a good result in the near future.”
Theodoridis also described the meeting as “positive” but declined comment when asked if there was a risk to Dublin’s hosting of four Euro 2020 fixtures.
The position of Delaney was not discussed apparently.
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