Irish Sports Minister Shane Ross has revealed that the Football Association of Ireland asked the government for an 18 million euro [£15.3m] bailout.
Minister Ross was speaking at a parliamentary meeting on Wednesday.
The minister described the request as “shocking” and said the government made it “absolutely clear” the FAI would not get the funds.
In a statement, the FAI expressed “deep disappointment” at the comments made during Wednesday’s meeting in Dublin.
Officials of the cash-strapped FAI had talks with the government on Monday regarding the financial future of the Association.
“That confidentiality was broken in the Oireachtas today and as a consequence, this has made the efforts to secure the financial future of the FAI all the more difficult,” said the FAI statement.
“The Board, management and staff at the FAI are working hard to avoid an insolvency process,” added FAI Executive Lead Paul Cooke.
“We know better than anyone the consequences that would have on our international teams, the League of Ireland and the hundreds of thousands who play football up and down the country every weekend. The Board wants to do what is best for all those stakeholders and for our staff.
“We made it clear to Government on Monday that the Board is frustrated at the delay in the appointment of an Independent Chairperson and three Independent Directors. Like the Government, the Association wants to see these appointments made immediately.
“Until the refinancing package is signed-off, it is unlikely that Independent Directors will be available for appointment. What was said in the Oireachtas today will not help the recruitment process for those Independent Directors.”
The FAI’s 29m euro [£24.7m] debt on the Aviva Stadium was also discussed in the parliamentary committee meeting in Dublin on Wednesday.
Mr Ross revealed that the Department of Sport will meet the Irish Rugby Football Union on Thursday to talk about the Dublin venue after Fianna Fail TD Marc MacSharry asked if the rugby governing body could take total ownership of the stadium, in return for potentially taking on the debt.
The minister, who has been critical of the FAI’s governance in recent weeks, expressed his concerns about the future of the League of Ireland given the financial crisis at the FAI.
“My guess is if the FAI goes, the League of Ireland goes the same way. I think that is absolutely inevitable.” he said.
Ross ‘dismayed’ at FAI
For the second time in two weeks, the FAI had refused an invitation to attend a committee meeting to discuss its finances and governance.
Mr Ross said he was “dismayed” at the governing body not attending, with the FAI’s reason being that it needed to focus exclusively on its troubled finances as well as promised governance reforms.
Earlier this month, the FAI released its annual accounts which revealed that it had liabilities of more than 55 million euro, and that former chief executive John Delaney had been given a severance package of 462,000 euro.
The minister also told the Oireachtas Sport Committee that the recent independent audit into the FAI which has been passed on to the Gardai had stated that the Republic of Ireland’s football governing body “is not fit to handle public funds”.
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This independent audit has not been made available to the parliamentary committee amid the Gardai’s ongoing enquiries.
“I have also consulted with An Garda Síochána, who have advised me that matters outlined in the KOSI report are central to their investigations and those of the ODCE, and that to make the report public at this time could have serious implications for any criminal proceedings subsequently brought by the DPP,” said the minister.
On Tuesday, FAI chief operating officer Rea Walshe said it was not in a position to attend because the board’s “undivided attention” needed to be focused on “the financial restructuring necessary to safeguard jobs, the FAI’s financial future and the appointment of an Independent Chairperson and three Independent Directors”.
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