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FAI committee member calls on independent board members to resign

A member of the FAI Finance Committee established late last year, Larry Bass reiterated his call ...

FAI committee member calls on...

FAI committee member calls on independent board members to resign

A member of the FAI Finance Committee established late last year, Larry Bass reiterated his call on the association's independent board members to resign on Tuesday's OTB AM, due to his concerns about the standards of good corporate governance within the association. 

It is a little under one year since Larry Bass was elected to be a member of the FAI Finance Committee.

Tasked with asking the "right and correct questions" regarding the FAI's financial arrangements, Bass, speaking to OTB AM after the FAI's EGM, explained that this committee has not yet met in an official capacity and may not do so until early next year.

Unsure if those members elected in 2019 will still be in place, the committee's inability to fulfill its theoretical role regarding the financial arrangement voted on last night has given Bass cause to his call again on independent board members of the FAI to resign.

"I've called for the resignation of the independent members of the board," he explained, "with the exception of Robert Watt who joined it late.

"I feel that the oversight on the [matter of the FAI finance package] is questionable and I think that the FAI, above anything else, needs to have squeaky clean corporate governance. If the brand is going to be reborn we need to get our house in order off the pitch."

In the aftermath of John Delaney's tenure as CEO of the FAI, a shake-up of the governing structures within the association saw four independent board members appointed.

After last night's decision was reached at the association's EGM, this number will increase to six with two members of the board that are elected by the FAI's members making way as a result.

Although Larry Bass is content to move forward after last night's vote, a perceived lack of transparency in the FAI's financial arrangements, and the delays that have held up the Financial Committee, leave him doubting those charged to leading reform.

"We heard Roy [Barrett, interim FAI chair] and Gary [Owens, interim FAI CEO] both say that we need to put the past behind us and move on with the football," remarked Bass, the contents of those discussions with OTB Sports available here.

"Unfortunately, they haven't covered themselves in glory when it comes to corporate governance. The simple effect of having a finance committee overseeing the fiduciary duties, to just question the financial arrangements, it hasn't met. I can see no reason why.

"There's an interim board, an interim chair and an interim CEO. You can have an interim finance committee and still have the questions. Excuses are not good enough."

FAI 31 August 2020; FAI Independent Chairperson Roy Barrett during a FAI Post EGM Media Briefing at FAI Headquarters in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Furthermore, Bass has taken exception with what he regards as the questionable appointment of Roy Barrett to the role of FAI's Independent Chairperson.

In the aftermath of Monday's EGM, Barrett flatly rejected the suggestion that a recommendation from Bank of Ireland chairman Patrick Kennedy regarding his appointment suggested a conflict of interests.

Given that the FAI has been negotiating its debts with the Bank of Ireland, Bass believes that any involvement on the bank's behalf in the appointment of Barrett would be another mark against the current board of independent members and their standards of corporate governance.

"If you have one single creditor and that creditor has any role in appointing who will oversee the negotiations on that debt," he argued, "it feels to me incorrect."

"The only thing that seemed to be non-negotiable was the debt. I'd like to have seen cost benefit analysis on other options, up to and including liquidation and examinership."

Choosing to reserve judgement on whether or not Barrett has his support, Bass insisted that there needs to be greater clarity on certain matters if he is to support the Independent Chair.

"I still think there are questions to be answered [regarding his] relationship with the FAI's main creditor," he explained, "and I would like to see a full resolution on that.

"Until there is absolute proof positive that there isn't [a conflict of interest there], you have to ask the question. Simple as."

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FAI Gary Owens Larry Bass Republic Of Ireland Roy Barrett