Minister Shane Ross all but confirmed that the government would not allow the FAI to go insolvent, according to the General Secretary of the PFAI, Stephen McGuinness.
The Professional Footballers' Association of Ireland, along with League of Ireland players and clubs met with the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport as well as Junior Minister Brendan Griffin on Friday.
McGuinness, speaking on Tuesday's OTB AM, said that Minister Ross indicated that the government would eventually bail the FAI out if necessary and that he wasn't expecting any help from UEFA.
“In regards to the financial package, he went 99% of the way to say that the government wouldn’t allow the FAI to go into examinership or insolvency. So you would expect a deal of some sort.
“I don’t see UEFA bailing the FAI out so I think the only show in town is the government. I think it would be unprecedented for UEFA to come in and bail out a federation.
“Right across Europe, no federation has ever gone insolvent. UEFA have never bailed anyone out. It would be a dangerous precedent for them to set if they did do it. So I really do think it’s in the government’s court to resolve this,” McGuinness said.
While the General Secretary of the PFAI stated that nothing has been confirmed as of yet, he expects the government to have a more hands-on role with the FAI.
“Now on that basis, you would expect the government - if they were going to do it - that they would have, not control, but they would have people in places [within the FAI].
“I think the word for it would be maybe some senior civil servant may be part of the four independent directors that come in.
“Again, this is only really speculation but I’d be close enough to it and so would other stakeholders. I would think the government will have some sort of eyes on what the future of the FAI is.
“What the minister has seen since his comments in the Oireachtas is how much the League of Ireland people actually care about it… The interest in the league in the country was, I think, underestimated.
“Maybe the comment that if the FAI went that the league would go, I think, maybe caught him by surprise and caught Minister Griffin by surprise as well,” McGuinness commented.
The future of the League of Ireland
The former Dundalk player was clear about his hopes for the future of the League of Ireland, stating his belief that it would be best for the FAI not to be involved.
“I suppose, from ourselves and the clubs, it’s looking like the FAI are going to run the league next year for sure but the long-term future of our league is that it does have to be independent of the FAI.
“Ourselves and the clubs very much want that. Like everything, you can’t just go and pull away we’ve under 13, 15, 17 and 19 leagues now. It’s not just about the two senior leagues. It will be an interesting year ahead.
“The main thing is to get this bailout done, to get the finances of the FAI sorted from a staff point of view and to basically cement the organisation, at least in the short-term before we can look at - from our own perspective - where the league is going to go,” McGuinness said.
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