Michael Staines
Michael Staines

06.40 28 Nov 2019


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Officials from the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) have been invited before the Oireachtas Sports Committee to discuss ways to reinstate funding to football clubs as soon as possible.

It comes after the findings of a forensic audit of the association’s accounts were referred to the Gardaí.

The association has insisted that it spent all the State funds it received from Sport Ireland “appropriately and as intended.”

Sports Minister Shane Ross said he had received the report but had received legal advice warning him against publishing or commenting on it, as it had been referred to An Garda Síochána by Sport Ireland.

He said he had also been advised not to release it to the Sports Committee.

Morning top 5 Image: Facebook/FAIreland

In a statement on Wednesday, the FAI board said it had yet to receive the final report.

It said it is already co-operating fully with an Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) investigation into its affairs, and confirmed that it would do the same with any Garda investigation.

“As previously stated, the FAI can confirm that all Government money allocated to the FAI by Sport Ireland was spent appropriately and as intended,” it said.

The forensic audit carried out by Northern Ireland firm KOSI.

The auditor was tasked with examining how the FAI was spending State grant money as well as the wider financial administration at Irish football's governing body.

Delay

The firm was originally due to publish its findings on October 7th - however following ‘significant developments’ at the FAI at the time, it requested an extension.

The audit was commissioned amid concerns over the association’s finances after it emerged former CEO John Delaney had given the association a €100,000 bridging loan from his own pocket.

That led Sport Ireland to 'suspend and withhold' State funding to the organisation, warning that it would not reinstate it until all reports and audits were complete.

Mr Delaney stepped away from the association in September.

He served as CEO from 2005 to March 2019 and as executive vice-president until his resignation.

"Natural justice"

Both the FAI and Sport Ireland were due to appear before the Oireachtas Sports Committee in October.

But was put back until the report could be completed.

Minister Ross has told Oireachtas Sports Committee Chair Fergus O’Dowd that his legal advisors had warned him against sharing the report with the committee.

In correspondence seen by Off the Ball, the minister said: “I regret to inform you that I have received legal advice directing that I do not share the final report with the committee at this time as to do so would be to place the document in the public domain.

The minister said his legal advice “highlighted the importance of respect for natural justice in respect of all individuals referenced in the report.”


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FAI Fergus O'Dowd Finances Football Association Of Ireland John Delaney ODCE Office Of The Director Of Corporate Enforcement Oireachtas Sports Committee SPorts Committee Shane Ross Sports Minister Shane Ross

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