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Wednesday 29 January 2020

Rock bottom is not yet in sight for the FAI

John Earley. Pic: Sportsfile
John Earley. Pic: Sportsfile

It was the off-field equivalent of not playing until the final whistle, thinking the game was over before the ref decided that was true.

Friday's bold statement by the FAI board that the crisis-ridden organisation had reached "rock bottom", and therefore could go no lower, turned out to be just as accurate and reliable as the FAI's annual accounts for 2017.

Turning a corner is not easy when there are constant roadblocks, even more revelations. News that officials from CAB (Criminal Assets Bureau) will assist in the probe of the FAI's finances makes things even more serious for those involved, with senior fraud squad detectives and officials from the ODCE due to meet today to plot a course.

And the Sunday Independent's revelation that the FAI covered the cost of John Delaney's personal legal actions will put even more scrutiny (if that were possible) on the previous board and current directors Donal Conway and John Earley, who were on previous boards.

Following a lengthy press conference on Friday, the FAI board had another meeting, this time with association staff.

Reports suggest that the mood in the room, and the line of questioning from concerned staff, was more angry than had happened in the press briefing, and SIPTU, who represent a chunk of FAI staff, plan more meetings with their members this week.

Even before the accounts were made public there was concern over staffing levels, an estimated 10 departures from various parts of the organisation's staff in the last six months with no replacements.

There was a hint of public disquiet, and a subsequent flash of anger from within the FAI, when one Twitter user noted how "former mouths" like Andy Reid and Damien Duff were "quiet and spineless".

That sparked a response from Reid, currently working as manager of the Ireland U18 side.

"Mouth? You've some neck! I'm busy working my balls off trying to help develop our young players so we can continue producing players for our senior team. And along with the other underage managers and coaches we are doing a hell of job," Reid roared back.

For Reid's employers, rock bottom is nowhere near.

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