Soccer

"Absolutely, utterly, totally" | Oireachtas Chair calls for radical FAI overhaul

In light of the FAI's accounts being laid bare on Friday afternoon, Fergus O'Dowd, Chair of the Oireachtas Committee into Transport, Tourism and Sport, explained why he expects a complete overhaul of the association's hierarchy on Monday's OTB AM

Ahead of welcoming the Football Association of Ireland's representatives into the Oireachtas on Wednesday afternoon, Fergus O'Dowd offered an insight into the line of questions he and his fellow committee members will be pursuing.

With the extent of the association's financial issues now known, O'Dowd firmly believes that a complete overhaul of the hierarchy is needed.

"We've invited Sport Ireland, Minister [Shane] Ross and the FAI," he explained on Monday's OTB AM. "I do know that yesterday evening [the FAI] did, in fact, say that they wanted to come before the committee and clearly we'll have a lot of questions for them.

"Personally, I want all new faces."

Although determined to ensure that the FAI in its current guise is held accountable for previous actions, O'Dowd outlined the importance of what must occur by way of a positive move forward.

"Whatever else happens," he said, "it is the new faces, the new leadership that is moving in is what people want.

"The new leadership, and if you look at what happened with the Olympic Council when Mr Hickey went, it transformed itself.

"I'm not suggesting that that is what will happen here, but we need something like that to happen."

The idea of a complete rebrand had been mentioned as recently as Friday when Niall Quinn joined Off the Ball in the immediate aftermath of the association's accounts being released.

Given the public platform that Fergus O'Dowd will be afforded by way of the Oireachtas meeting this week, it is a concept he is largely in favour of.

"There are some changes proposed already," he outlined, "and whoever the next permanent CEO will be, he/she is not a member of the [FAI] board and they are accountable to the board.

"I think what happened with the old board is that it was captured by their Chief Executive and he had total and absolute influence over everything and everybody, it appears.

"So, there has to be a structural change.

"When I looked at those men, and they were all men [at Friday's meeting], I said, 'Hey, guys, you're going to have to change.'

"Personally, I want all new faces. I know that a number of those people were never on the board before and couldn't have known what was going on, but there are people who could've known and didn't, and I think they have to go immediately.

"I don't have any qualifications in corporate affairs, but I would love to see a new organisation if it can be done. It certainly needs absolutely new, clearly defined changes and new leadership, absolutely, utterly, totally."

Highlighting the difficulties that will ultimately emerge if the FAI is redeveloped in such a fashion, he nevertheless surmised of the Oireachtas committee's role: "There are huge questions that I can't answer but we'll have to ask."

You can listen to Fergus O'Dowd's remarks in their entirety here.

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Donal Conway Fergus O'Dowd Football Association Of Ireland Oireachtas Paul Cooke

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