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Fianna Fáil TD criticises "level of grubbiness" about FAI governance

Fianna Fáil TD Marc MacSharry claims there has been "a level of grubbiness" about the standard o...

Fianna Fáil TD Marc MacSharry claims there has been "a level of grubbiness" about the standard of governance within the FAI in the last number of months. 

Speaking on Thursday's OTB AM, MacSharry, who has been vocal in his criticism of the FAI in the Dáil and elsewhere, outlined his issues with the new regime and what has motivated his willingness to publicly display his disenfranchisement.

"Sadly, what has taken place over the last four or five months has left an awful lot to be desired in the context of good corporate governance," he remarked.

"We were entering what we thought was a new era but as things have been approached, as far as I'm concerned, it wouldn't pass the governance test by an objective analysis.

"I'm doing this for the benefit of football. Whether it is Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck running the FAI is of no issue to me provided it is being run correctly. It isn't about personality, it is about running it correctly.

"I have no agenda for any old guard any more than I've agenda for any new guard. I do have an agenda for governance and you can't dress up this new era as good governance with what I've proven beyond doubt and as was corroborated last night."

In what appeared a remarkable act of defiance against the current interim CEO of the FAI Gary Owens, eight of the board's directors issued a collective statement independent of the the association itself on Wedenesday night.

Referring to themselves as "elected directors," they were "alarmed" at claims made by Owens earlier in the day concerning Marc MacSharry. The Fianna Fáil Deputy had stated that no board meeting took place before the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the FAI and government in late January.

Contained within that MoU were conditions set for the restructuring of the FAI in accordance with the proposed receipt of government money; the alteration in the make-up of the association's board has since become a major sticking point.

Although Owens claimed a meeting had taken place on Wednesday afternoon, only a matter of hours later the eight directors in question claimed that they did not approve of the MoU before it was signed.

"I was in a position to make contact with some board members in trying to underpin what I knew to be the facts and I'm glad to see that borne out last night," explained MacSharry of how he had sources some of his information on the matter.

"I think where you're coming from, Ger, is that, 'Oh, here's Marc MacSharry, the Trojan Horse for the bad guys of the past.' I mean, some of the eight [signatories of the statement] haven't been around the scene at all and I wouldn't like to cast any aspersions on their reputations.

"I'm pleased on a personal level that [they issued this statement] because when you have the interim CEO saying yesterday that I was incorrect, I knew I wasn't. So, I was quite pleased that that statement emerged."

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

In a wide ranging discussion that also featured input from former Minister for Sport Shane Ross and can be watched back in full here, Marc MacSharry clarified the issues that he holds regarding the FAI's recent governance.

"The process that has taken place in terms of signing the MoU, in terms of other relationships to do with the board and recruitment that has taken place over the last six months," he outlined, "does not stand up to basic corporate governance principles.

"I've shown that in the Dáil and I've no issue with anybody challenging my view on it. In terms of my sources, they have included two people on the board and about 26 other people from [the grassroots] right up along.

"Unfortunately, the last six months bears a level of grubbiness that doesn't quite match the mistakes of the past, but doesn't augur well and doesn't sit well with me."

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Fianna Fáil Football Football Association Of Ireland Gary Owens Marc Macsharry Niall Quinn Roy Barrett Soccer