Governance Review Group publishes 133-page report recommending overhaul of FAI governance structure

Fri, Jun 21 2019

Governance issues at the FAI led to furious fan protests for the removal of John Delaney as CEO. Credit: Michael P Ryan (ETPhotos)

The Governance Review Group established in partnership between the FAI and Sport Ireland to overhaul the association’s governing structure has published its 133-page report.

The report makes 78 key recommendations for the improvement of governance in Irish football, including the dissolution of the honorary secretary and honorary treasurer roles.

A new board structure containing 12 members, four independent directors, the president, vice president and six representatives of the footballing community, has been proposed.

At least four of the board members should be female and this should be implemented within 24 months at the latest.

This ‘gender balance’ should be reflected within FAI Council, committee and AGM level within a slightly longer timeframe of 36 months.

The limit for all board members’ terms would be eight years, two four-year terms, while council membership should not run longer than ten years.

The group expects the current board to honour their commitment to step down at the AGM and the appointment of an interim board up until the AGM in July 2020, when it will be replaced in the terms outlined in the report.

Other suggestions have already been undertaken to be implemented, including clarity on the role of the chief executive and other senior executive roles, and no seat on the board for the CEO.

The full report can be read here.

“In our many meetings and presentations over recent weeks, I have regularly emphasised that governance should not be seen as an end in itself but as a means to end,” said Governance Review Group head Aidan Horan.

“That end being, in the case of the FAI, the fulfilment of its overall purpose – the promotion and development of football in Ireland.

“All of the governance practices, policies, procedures, processes and the overall governance structures and arrangements should be directed with that overall purpose in mind.

“Over recent weeks we have heard about, read about and been presented with much evidence of the great and unsung work done by volunteers, mentors, coaches, FAI staff and many others across the country and in a review of this nature, it is important to acknowledge and to commend this work.

“People do care passionately about football and are invested in the game at so many levels and they, like us all, want to see a much more successful and vibrant and well governed FAI.

“We have also unfortunately seen evidence of a breakdown in trust, confidence and faith in the Association and this review is primarily focused on identifying and recommending actions and initiatives that, if implemented as envisaged, aim to rebuild and restore the trust, confidence and faith in how the Association is governed.

“A fundamental good governance obligation is the concept of checks and balances and the separation of powers and that is supported by having clarity of roles and responsibilities so that there is no role confusion between those who occupy governance and leadership positions in the organisation, whether at Board, Council, Committee or Management level.

“This report calls for serious reflection by those who have the authority and power to support and endorse these recommendations.

“This report also calls for a serious reflection by those who may see themselves taking on a governance position to acknowledge the profound duties and expectations that go with these roles.

“The recommendations set out a clear pathway for improved corporate governance and better governance structures within the Association and comes at an opportune time, given the wide contextual and operating challenges facing the Association.

“My final comment reflects a statement in a submission received from a contributor which I was particularly taken by.

“The statement read ‘good governance is at the heart of how we do business’. I would like to think that this report is a contribution to ensure that good governance returns to be at the heart of how the FAI does its business.”