The Football Association of Ireland’s current financial state has come under the spotlight once again following their Annual General Meeting.
The stand-out piece of information from the meeting is that the FAI will be paying Sports Direct €100,000 a month until October of 2025. This is the case as the association entered into a sponsorship agreement with the sportswear manufacturer in 2018 and requested a pre-payment of €6.5 million as part of the deal. John Delaney was CEO of the FAI at the time of the agreement.
Following Delaney’s departure in 2019, Sports Direct immediately ended the agreement and the FAI entered into a deal to repay the loan in monthly repayments of €100,000. This news will add to the level of derision and disdain around the handling of the organisation’s finances during the Delaney years.
It was not all bad news for Irish football supporters, however. Auditors Grant Thornton approved the accounts for 2019 on a going concern basis, meaning that the organisation is expected to be in existence in the coming years. This was not the case in 2018, when former auditors Deloitte did not approve the accounts on a going concern basis.
Chairperson Roy Barrett was cautiously optimistic following the AGM, stating that he believes that the FAI “are out of the woods.”
The 2019 accounts of the FAI paint a far brighter picture for the association than the 2018 accounts. They have allowed the FAI to forecast a positive cash flow by 2023, which is a significant step forward. However, the 2020 accounts will almost certainly be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic with gate receipts being almost entirely wiped out. They amounted to €11 million worth of revenue for the FAI in 2018.
While there is still existing debt on the Aviva Stadium and a €4 million payment to UEFA due in the coming years, the AGM held on Tuesday highlighted the improvement in the organisation’s finances in 2019 and leaves football in this country in a far more sustainable position than it was in the not too recent past.