By Shay L’Estrange
As the FAI crisis continues to deepen it appears that once again, when a badly run company finds itself in difficulty the staff at the bottom of the pay scale are the first to be hit. This was evident at the FAI press conference on Friday where the financial mess that is the FAI was laid bare. The newly appointed interim CEO Paul Cooke reassured the gathered press that the national team would not be affected by the restructuring that was necessary to bring the organisation back to financial health. What this means is that well paid management and playing staff will be protected while the staff on basic salary will take the hit once again. What should be noted is that while the FAI is a limited company it is also a publicly funded one receiving up to €50 million in state funding over the past decade.
This current attack on FAI staff follows on from cuts to staff wages in 2012. As a result of poor ticket sales (at least that is what the staff were told), the then CEO, John Delaney while inflicting cuts of10% to 15% on staff who earned between €30,000 and €40,000 a year was himself earning €400,000 a year. In addition, as these cuts were being implemented the FAI were agreeing to pay €3,000 a month for the rent on John Delaney’s private residence. In 2014 Delaney negotiated a service-related bonus and pension contribution from the FAI that was set to cost the organisation €3million over a seven-year period. During the period 2008 to 2018 the men’s national team manager earned almost €14 million.
Looking at these figures it’s no surprise that the FAI is in a serious financial position, and the blame for this cannot be laid at the feet of the staff. Nor can the staff be expected to pay the price for poor management and lack of government oversight on state funding. We are therefore calling on the Government to appoint Sport Ireland to oversee the running of the FAI until such time as it has proper governance in place. We also call on the Government ensure that the jobs and conditions of FAI staff are protected.