FAI crisis: Irish football governing body needs 'complete cleanout' says Ross

Irish Sport Minister Shane Ross
Sports Minister Shane Ross denied suggestions of "government interference" into the Irish football governing body

The Irish Minister for Sport says the Football Association of Ireland [FAI] needs a "complete cleanout" amid the governing body's continuing problems.

The FAI has been in crisis since news emerged in March of a 100,000 loan given to the association by former chief executive John Delaney.

John Foley looked set to be appointed interim FAI chief executive on Monday but then declined the role.

"I want to see regime change," Sports Minister Shane Ross told RTE Sport.

Following former Athletics Ireland chief executive Foley's 11th hour decision to turn down the interim role, the FAI has appointed its vice-president Paul Cooke as to what the association describes as "executive lead for the next couple of weeks".

An FAI statement on Tuesday afternoon said this was as it "awaits the appointment of an independent chairperson", adding that Cooke, who will be based at FAI headquarters, would report directly to FAI president Donal Conway.

Cooke, who has had a successful career in newspaper publishing, was elected FAI vice-president in July and it remains to be seen whether Minister Ross will regard him as being part of the old regime.

Former Athletics Ireland chief executive John Foley made an 11th hour decision not to accept the FAI interim role
John Foley was expected to be introduced to the FAI staff at its Dublin headquarters on Monday

Foley's 11th hour decision to turn down FAI role

Former Athletics Ireland chief executive Foley looked certain to take over after the term of previous interim interim chief Noel Mooney ended with him heading back to his regular job at European football governing body Uefa.

Foley was expected to be introduced to the FAI staff at its Dublin headquarters on Monday only for news to emerge of his 11th hour decision not to take up the role.

The ex-Athletics Ireland chief told RTE he believed he did not have the required support from stakeholders to take the job on an interim basis while a permanent CEO was recruited.

After news of the 100,000 euro loan emerged in March, Delaney moved from the position of FAI chief executive to a newly created role of executive vice-president.

In April, Delaney agreed to voluntarily step aside from his new role and he was effectively on 'gardening leave' before resigning from the position in late September.

Ireland's state corporate watchdog began legal proceedings against the FAI in May after the association acknowledged it had broken state funding rules and government funding has been withdrawn from the football governing body.

Last week, Minister Ross revealed that Sport Ireland had referred an independent audit of the FAI to the Irish police.

Ross demands appointment of 'independent directors'

An independent chairperson and three independent directors are due to join the FAI board following recommendations in a governance review of the association released in June.

Ross told RTE that he "can't understand why the independent directors haven't been appointed yet".

"The delay for that is absolutely inexcusable and it worries the government that that's happened.

"It means not going back to the FAI for people like Noel Mooney, people who in the past have had identification with the FAI. That's not acceptable anymore. We've got to see a complete clean out."

The Irish Sports Minister strongly denied accusations of "government interference".

"What we're talking about here is restoration of funding.

"We'll restore funding when we're certain that the old habits have died and that corporate governance is back in order.

"We don't want to interfere with anything at all but we do want to see a well-run, clean-run organisation which puts its past behind it."

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