Sports minister welcomes ‘constructive’ Uefa talks over FAI financial crisis

By Rebecca Black and Aoife Moore, PA

Ireland’s minister for sport has welcomed a “constructive” meeting with Uefa over the financial crisis at the Football Association of Ireland.

The FAI is at risk of insolvency and has previously asked the Irish Government for a guarantee of 18 million euro (£15 million).

Shane Ross held a meeting with Uefa officials, also attended by minister of state Brendan Griffin and FAI chairman Roy Barrett.

Afterwards Mr Ross maintained the Irish Government will not bail the FAI out, but said he believes they are on a “pathway to a possible solution”.

“We think that the constructive nature of the meeting indicated that all four stakeholders are absolutely united in the determination to do what has to be done for Irish soccer, particularly from our point of view for the grassroots,” he said.

“We are determined that that should be done and done with the momentum which has built up over a period. We are meeting the Bank of Ireland, the principal creditor, tomorrow.

“We are very encouraged by what has happened, we want to make sure that soccer at the grassroots is preserved, we want to make sure that the interests of the staff who have served the FAI very, very well in the past and hopefully in the future are protected as well.

“We look forward to that happening and we anticipate that within days we will have another meeting, possibly with members of Uefa, and then finally, if we do make substantial progress, we will hopefully have a meeting with all the stakeholders together.”

Asked whether there was a financial commitment from the Government, Mr Ross said: “We are anxious to restore the funding which we had taken away from them in order to benefit grassroots soccer.

“We have absolutely maintained rigidly we are not going to bail out anybody, that is not on the cards.”

John Delaney (Brian Lawless/PA)

Government funding has been suspended after it emerged that former chief executive John Delaney gave a 100,000-euro loan to the association in 2017.

It was revealed in December that the FAI faces debts of up to 62 million euro (£53 million).