Michael Staines
Michael Staines

19.00 2 Dec 2019


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Sports Minister Shane Ross says the most important priority for the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) should be the appointment of four independent directors.

He was responding to the decision by John Foley not to accept an interim role as CEO with the organisation.

Mr Foley, the former head of Athletics Ireland, was due to take over the role on Monday morning but decided against taking up his appointment.

In a statement earlier, the board of the association said it noted Mr Foley’s decision “with great regret.”

“Throughout our dealings with John, his suitability for the role was beyond question and the level of professionalism and clarity he could bring to the Association would have been invaluable.

“John’s experience and influence will be especially missed by our staff, who would have benefitted greatly from his arrival.”

The board has met to discuss how to take the process forward.

In a statement, Minister Ross paid tribute to Mr Foley for his long service to Irish sport and his work in various executive roles.

Ministers Ross said he believes the most urgent priority for the FAI should be the appointment of the four independent directors.

"Hereafter, it is important that the board, under the leadership of the independent chairperson, moves quickly to fill the CEO vacancy.

"To satisfy the concerns of all stakeholders, the new CEO should be completely independent of any present or previous involvement with the FAI.

"The FAI’s reform agenda needs to be strongly led in a manner that allows normality to return to football in Ireland as quickly as possible. The restoration of government funding can only follow such reform", Minister Ross said.

The news will come as a blow to the FAI after an independent audit of its finances was last week referred to the Gardaí.

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.

It is believed Mr Foley had the backing of Sport Ireland.

Additional reporting: Jack Quann


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