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Sunday 19 May 2019

Concern grows over potential €1m legal bill for FAI

New role: Paul Cooke
New role: Paul Cooke

FAI delegates will today seek clarity on the cost of recent turmoil to the association amid fears that the overall legal bill will soon cross the €1m mark.

Two representatives from FIFA will visit Abbotstown on a busy day of activity which will include a board meeting, an FAI Council session and also a gathering of the Finance Committee which was only arranged early this week.

Fiscal matters are set to be high on the agenda with concern growing about the expense of ongoing reviews and, in particular, the legal costs.

The FAI were back in the High Court yesterday where proceedings, to determine if particular documents given to the Office of Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) by the FAI are legally privileged, have been adjourned to late June.

Representatives from A & L Goodbody have been a familiar presence around Abbotstown in recent weeks.

Sources have indicated that the current legal bill is a high six figure sum and it is expected to rise with no end in sight to the legal process.

FAI officials acknowledge the bill will be substantial, yet the positive slant on the expense is that these are exceptional circumstances which could lead to a longer term reform. In the short term, it raises concerns about the association's already strained resources.

Framework

The FIFA governance experts will be given a rundown on the FAI's situation and will also be briefed on the work of a Governance Review Group that is looking to establish the framework for a new board and voting structure.

FIFA's officials will also meet representatives of Sport Ireland today. Council representative Dave Moran will today push for Paul Cooke - the sole candidate for the vacant position of Honorary Treasurer - to be brought onto the board straight away rather than waiting for the AGM in July.

However, the FAI are expected to outline their own plans to deal with the challenges presented by the dramatic fallout from the emergence of ex-CEO John Delaney's bridging loan to the Association in 2017.

UEFA are playing an active role in terms of helping the FAI hierarchy and there is momentum behind a plan where European football's governing body sends staff to Ireland to ease the burden.

There is strong speculation within football circles that former League of Ireland goalkeeper Noel Mooney, the Head of National Associations Business Development with UEFA, will be working with the FAI for the foreseeable future.

The FAI are currently being led by interim CEO Rea Walshe in tandem with President Donal Conway and the remaining eight members of the board after the departures of Delaney - who is currently sidelined from his role of Executive Vice President - Honorary Treasurer Eddie Murray and Honorary Secretary Michael Cody.

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