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FAI "couldn't give a bollocks" about League of Ireland - Jonathan O'Brien

Richie McCormack
Richie McCormack

15:40 18 Dec 2019

The FAI have been described as absentee fathers who "couldn't give a bollocks" about the League of Ireland. 

The comments were made by Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O'Brien at a hearing of the Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport.

At quite a late stage in the FAI's current crisis, the very future of the League of Ireland was to the fore at Wednesday's hearing.

Minister for Sport Shane Ross told the Committee that the FAI had sought a "bailout" of €18m at a meeting at Leinster House on Monday night.

Deputy O'Brien - a former board member and chairman of Cork City - questioned Minister Ross on the impact of the FAI's current financial crisis upon the FAI.

"My guess is that if the FAI goes, the League of Ireland goes the same way", Ross told the Committee.

Deputy O'Brien told the Committee in response, "We had a situation where they [FAI] actually described the League of Ireland as the 'problem child'.

"We were not the problem child - the FAI were the absentee fathers.

"They were the absentee fathers who didn't give an absolute bollocks about the League of Ireland, and continue to not care about the League of Ireland".

Ross conceded today that he felt the League of Ireland "had been neglected to an extent" under the previous FAI regime overseen by John Delaney.

He added, "when the independent directors come in, I intend to let them know that one of the great concerns we do have is the League of Ireland.

"It's part of the forgotten stakeholders and they should be given greater consideration and greater respect for what they're doing".

Minister Ross thanked Deputy O'Brien for raising the League of Ireland issue, saying he'd raise the problems in his meeting with UEFA on January 14th.

"They [the League of Ireland] are obviously subject to the consequences of what happened here", was Ross' grim reading of the scene.

Deputy O'Brien says the idea of the FAI being liquidated presents consequences that "are too great to even comprehend at the moment".

The Sinn Féin TD says examinership may be an avenue to be explored by those looking to resolve the FAI crisis.

He told the Committee, "If we are serious about protecting the future of Irish football, then you may end up with a scenario where the FAI goes into examinership.

"While it is in examinership there is an alternative structure put in place to take it out of examinership.

"If that was to happen", Deputy O'Brien said, "that would require financing - possibly State financing.

"That is the only way that you are going to protect your national teams, your leagues, as well as your grassroots football.

"Because if it is liquidated, under the articles of UEFA, your domestic teams are gone, your national team are gone - they're all gone.

"Whatever our opinion of the FAI is and its management structure - we cannot allow a situation where the FAI is liquidated because the consequences are unbearable to think about."

Deputy O'Brien warned Minister Ross that his Department need to be preparing for the eventuality of examinership.

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