FAI: Liquidation a possibility, says executive lead Cooke

Donal Conway and Paul Cooke
Donal Conway and Paul Cooke were speaking at the FAI's annual general meeting

The Football Association of Ireland could go into liquidation, says its executive lead Paul Cooke.

Cooke called for "a partnership approach between ourselves, our banks, Uefa and the government" in a bid to aid the FAI's plight.

Outgoing president Donal Conway said the FAI's situation was "bleak but fixable", adding the board has to take "responsibility for not doing better".

He also said standing aside will be helpful to the association's cause.

Speaking at a news conference after the association's annual general meeting, Cooke said that selling its stake of the Aviva Stadium is a possible solution but said the FAI would need at least 50 million euro to do so.

"We are involved in conversations with our stakeholders," said Cooke. "If those conversations were to break down, then the dissolvency process is something that could happen.

"That could mean examinership, or it could even mean liquidation.

"With liquidation there would be no international match friendlies and there's, at a minimum, uncertainty about League of Ireland clubs' participation in Europe.

"They are your most severe consequences. All our commercial contracts would end.

"Examinership means we would get protection from our creditors, but you have to have a viable financial plan for that."

Aviva Stadium
The FAI say that selling its stake in the Aviva Stadium could be a potential solution

Conway won't address auditor's claims or Minister Ross

At the AGM, Conway reiterated his regret about the association's current situation, stating "it impacts sport, it impacts football and it impacts all the agents in the game".

"But I think there were a lot of people in the room who were saying we have to get to get on with it, we have to move forward, this is fixable and there are solutions.

"I have before. I stood in front of staff and expressed my regret, I've expressed my culpability and I've done all that before."

FAI auditors Deloitte have said that in its opinion it was misled, and says that the FAI failed to keep accurate books of account, something Conway said he was "not really going to address", adding it "could be played out on another platform at some other stage".

Since the details about the financial situation came to light, Ireland's minister for sport Shane Ross has called the FAI "a basket case" and said the association had asked for an 18m euro bailout.

The relationship between Ross and the FAI was strained after the association alleged that the TD had broken confidentiality.

However, the FAI says it has met with the government and Ross since his comments, describing the meeting as "constructive and workmanlike".

Since then, Ross referenced the FAI in a tweet on Boxing Day, in which the minister posed with a goose.

Conway said he would not make any comments on minister Ross or what the motivation behind the tweet was, but said he would "leave it up to other people" to see what "the relevant politician seeks out of it".

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