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FAI could face 'full audit' before funding restored

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FAI headquarters at Abbotstown

FAI headquarters at Abbotstown

FAI headquarters at Abbotstown

The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) faces the prospect of a full audit as part of Sport Ireland's conditions for state funding to be restored to the organisation.

It comes amid the ongoing controversy over a €100,000 loan given to the association by former chief executive John Delaney in 2017.

Sport Ireland, which will appear before TDs and senators today, has suspended funding to the FAI in the wake of the revelations about the loan.

Sports Minister Shane Ross is also due to appear before the Oireachtas Sport Committee.

Mr Delaney gave an account of the circumstances of the loan to the committee last week.

However, he refused to answer questions about it, the FAI's finances or his time as chief executive, citing legal advice.

Sport Ireland chief executive John Treacy is expected to read its statement to the committee today.

It will say Sport Ireland had expected the FAI would have been "open and transparent" during its appearance before the committee last week.

"The FAI delegation chose not to answer important questions, which was very disappointing," it will add.

Sport Ireland said that meeting did give an insight into FAI corporate governance when it was revealed that not all members of the association's board had been informed of material deterioration in the association's financial position in 2017. This is said to be "concerning".

Sport Ireland decided last week to suspend and withhold future funding from the FAI, a move it says is "typically an intervention of last resort".

The FAI is due to get around €2.9m in state funding this year.

Sport Ireland has said so far that a sum of €1.3m has already been paid. The next payment is due in quarter three of this year.

Sport Ireland said its board is of the "clear view" the interim period should be used by the FAI to take whatever actions are required to enable the restoration of funding.

The sport committee will be given an outline of the general conditions for the restoration of funding to bodies that have had it suspended. Sport Ireland will follow this established process with the FAI.

Satisfied

The board of Sport Ireland will review the decision on funding when it is satisfied the FAI has addressed governance and financial issues.

It said important steps include reviews of the FAI by consultancy firms Mazars and Grant Thornton and the implementation of recommendations and actions arising from their reports.

It said depending on what emerges from those reviews, "we will also consider a full audit of the FAI by Sport Ireland's appointed auditors, as per Sport Ireland's terms and conditions of grant approval".

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