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FAI board indicates it will step down, says Minister for Sport Shane Ross

The board of the Football Association of Ireland has indicated it will step down, Minister for Sport Shane Ross has told a parliamentary committee.

The FAI has been in the eye of a political storm since it emerged that ex-chief executive John Delaney provided it with a bridging loan in April 2017 to prevent it exceeding its 1.5 million euro (£1.3 million) bank overdraft.

Delaney has insisted he acted in the best interests of the game when he loaned the organisation 100,000 euro (£86,000).

John Delaney

John Delaney (Brian Lawless/PA)

Ross said he was disappointed by the behaviour of the board in a seven-hour committee meeting last week, when members appeared unwilling or unable to answer basic questions.

“Concerns remain about a financial transaction, and corporate governance, which suggests that all is far from well,” Ross said.

“In the last few hours the FAI has written to me to say decisive action has been taken.

“I welcome that the FAI is engaging with Sport Ireland in a process, and that they have now indicated that the board will step down.

“I believe that an EGM should be called before the July date, as soon as the active investigations have been concluded, to facilitate a transition to a new board by way of transparent elections.

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“Given the ever growing lack of public confidence in the FAI, this move is to be welcomed and is hopefully the first step on the road to rebuilding trust in this important NGB (national governing body).

“Considering the issues over which most of this board has presided, and those issues being obvious even before the various investigations have started, it is clearly time for a regime change.”

Sport Ireland has temporarily withheld further funding to the FAI pending an auditors’ probe.

Ross welcomed the move, and said: “I can add that there will be no further Government funding for the FAI until we see real change and reform in the association’s corporate governance, and until we have credible answers.”