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Highlights on Off The Ball

FAI in-fighting is likely to continue despite Friday's show of unity

After a hectic weak of public bickering between board members of the FAI, journalist Dan McDonnel...

FAI in-fighting is likely to c...

FAI in-fighting is likely to continue despite Friday's show of unity

After a hectic weak of public bickering between board members of the FAI, journalist Dan McDonnell is not overly hopeful that Friday's show of apparent unity will hold for very long. 

In less than one month's time, the FAI's EGM will determine whether the association accepts the terms of reform insisted upon by the Irish government and receives the vital funding required for its survival.

Although the Memorandum of Understanding between the government and the FAI has been the cause of much consternation this week, no unsatisfied party is likely to jeopardise an arrangement that the association is ultimately so reliant upon.

Nevertheless, as journalist Dan McDonnell suggested on Saturday's 'Football Show', this won't necessarily spell the end of the antipathy shared between certain board members.

"I think it is still pretty deep-seated," he suggested of the divisions at board level. "I think you will get this vote passed because you simply have to.

"The public would not tolerate a scenario whereby the FAI turns down this money because certain members are worried about the composition of a structure that a lot of people think has failed Irish football."

Among the proposed reforms dictated is a restructuring of who makes up the FAI's board, and how long each board member can remain in their position on it.

Under the new structure a 12-person board would be made up of six independent members and six elected officials from the game around the country. It would be an unprecedented move for a governing body in Irish sport.

Furthermore, no board member would be allowed to serve for any longer than a 10-year period.

Throughout the week on Off The Ball, Niall Quinn, interim Deputy CEO of the FAI, argued on Friday's OTB AM that he believes there is wiggle-room on that upper limit of years served. Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil TD and outspoken critic of the association's current independent executive suggested that the six-six split would not be in the FAI's best interest.

It is worth noting, however, that the Department of Sport has insisted upon the binding nature of the terms of their arrangement if any money is to pass hands.

"We've had an unprecedented level of disagreement this week," remarked McDonnell of the public nature by which board members have spoken out against one another.

"On Wednesday, eight directors of the board released their own statement independent of the FAI through private emails to make a point of their reaction to what other members of the board had done.

"That is pretty unprecedented territory, really."

FAI 5 August 2020; FAI Interim Chief Executive Gary Owens and FAI Interim Deputy Chief Executive Niall Quinn during the FAI Board Press Conference at FAI Headquarters in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Although this month's EGM is likely to see the FAI accept the terms of the MoU and secure their financial standing significantly, McDonnell isn't certain that it will be the final hurdle crossed by the association.

"You can say football people will always do the right thing by football," he remarked in response to this suggestion made by FAI President Gerry McAnaney on Friday night.

"Well, recent history would suggest that that hasn't always happened in terms of the people who have been sent to represent various sections of the game.

"Let's not overstate that point and be a bit more realistic about what brought us to this situation."

You can watch back Daniel McDonnell and former Ireland international Stephen Elliott in full here

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Daniel McDonnell FAI Football Association Of Ireland Gary Owens Niall Quinn Roy Barrett