By Eamon Scott…. Editor, STRIKERONLINE
THEY said things couldn’t get more difficult, but think again after Sunday’s reconvened FAI AGM at Citywest Hotel.
Up the creek without a paddle is closer to the mark as the full reality of the gaping hole in the FAI finances is laid bare with little or no sign of a bailout on the horizon.
Sadly, but equally as important, the Government has steadfastly refused to step in and bail the association out. UEFA in the meantime, it is believed, will prop up the finances until March and after that who knows?
The clock is ticking and the game of association football is in a place we never expected to be in and we need to come up with a solution quick or the game here could suffer for generations to come.
The key stakeholders referred to repeatedly are the Irish Government and UEFA but perhaps the ‘forgotten’ stakeholder as represented by grassroots fans and supporters of the game is arguably our best hope of salvation.
Yes, you the grassroots supporter, the fan, the players, the coach, the manager, the kitman, the member of the Green Army and everyone else who holds the game dear to them.
As often has been the case, the Green Army has been the national association’s most endearing and brilliant ambassador and maybe, once more into the breech, they can become the saviour of the game with a collective bail-out.
Like thousands and thousands of supporters of the game around the country I have been desperately frustrated in my inability to help out the game I care passionately about and while outgoing FAI President Donal Conway has issued a heartfelt apology on behalf of the association to the hundreds of thousands who have suffered as a result on inept management of the association’s finances, it is too little, too late and it puts nothing into the coffers of the association.
While many have taken to social media to vent their spleen and call for a ‘clear-out’ of the FAI hierarchy the reality is that many good people are involved in the game and while heads will roll, thousands of volunteers at all strands of the game will want to continue as grassroots level to make a contribution to help get the FAI back on an even keel and ensure that in its’ darkest hour, we were not found wanting.
It might appear simplistic in concept but there are thousands and thousands of people who feel utterly helpless in light on the stream of revelations put into the public domain in recent time about how bad the national association’s finances really are, and, they would genuinely, like to help
Put your hand in your pocket and let those fans who want to give a couple of euro towards giving the FAI the kiss of life through an injection of much needed funds.
They say that Christmas time is a time for giving and that sentiment rings more true than ever before when we hear of debts of €60M or more that is now a massive millstone around the FAI’s neck. Well €60m is nigh on impossible a target!
Many might baulk at such a notion to put their hand in their pocket and resist any solicitations to donate to a body that is clearly on the ropes and close to insolvency.
I can fully understand why people would not want to contribute, but the appeal is to those who do want to help and not from those who would sling unwanted criticism from the sidelines at this time.
To all who have the FAI’s interest and the game’s future at heart, the time is to man-up or woman-up and put the shoulder to the wheel.
So, I’d like to invite anyone with a positive suggestion to step forward and use their creative juices to get the ball rolling.
It’s been said that the outstanding mortgage on the Aviva Stadium is a ball-park €1.2 million at this point in time.
Is that a figure that could be raised?
With a Sports Minister who has taken to knocking the FAI at it’s lowest ebb, we can forget about Minister Ross and simply hope for a more informed an empathetic replacement post General Election 2020; our need really is to come up with a short-term fix.
Buying some breathing space is what is needed and clearing the outstanding mortgage looks the most achievable target.
Lead CEO Paul Cook is perhaps best suited – given his financial background – to navigate the FAI through the stormy waters he now finds himself travelling through and any injection of funding – albeit – for one specific use only – would be most welcome given the paucity of would-be cash ready suitors on the horizon.
Granted, €1.2m is a significant sum of money but it’s also an amount that would stave off the banks for a period of time, give the FAI some ‘wiggle room’ and perhaps save the jobs of many of our hard-working RDOs and CDOs?
That’s a worthy enough prospect to strive for. The money raised would be exclusively to meet the outstanding mortgage on the Aviva Stadium and for no other purpose. Guaranteed!
Put another way, €1.2m is 60,000 people giving €20 out of their pocket? It’s 40,000 giving €30. What would you be prepared to give!
€20 is not going to break the bank with anyone, but if we got some wind in our sails and perhaps some benevolent deep pocketed supporters to join the drive with bigger contributions, who knows what we can achieve!
Do we have 60,000 people who might respond positively to such a donation?
I believe we do and indeed more and perhaps the bigger challenge is getting the message out there, so I’m asking everyone to share this article if you believe that raising €1.2m is achievable?
Share and like and encourage all your friends to share and like too!
Another target of potential financial support would be all current and ex-Republic of Ireland internationals, many whom have banked a significant wad of cash over the course of their career to step forward and help any such appeal? A benefit match / memerobilia auction could be arranged with all monies raised going to the €1.2m goal.
Is it too much to ask those who have had the privilege to wear the green shirt to assist in reaching this goal when we now desperately need their support.
The idea of the fans and players uniting to become the saviour would help write the DNA of Irish players and supporters indelibly into the fabric of the association and forever change the dynamic of ‘ownership’ of the game in Ireland.
FC Barcelona is one of the few clubs in the world to be owned by the club members themselves. Together these members form the governing body of the club and in 2016 there were an estimated 140,000 socis or members in Catalan. Not a bad club to be part of when you consider that Barca was recently ranked second most valuable club in the world by Forbes magazine.
Appreciate we are talking about a national association here but the analogy is an idea that might sit well with many Republic of Ireland supporters of the Beautiful Game.
This article is initially to solicit ideas – and support – at a time when the national association is in dire need of a life-raft to hold onto and I am convinced that a properly run campaign with accountability and transparency with a €20 drive to identify 60,000 supporters might be a massive target, but one that is achievable.
A GO FUND ME campaign might just be the way to go, but I’d be really interested in positive contributions as to how to help rescue the national association.
The last thing I’m interested in is negativity or comments why you don’t want to help, rather to hear from like-minded people who would like to do something positive at this critical juncture in the history of the game here in Ireland.
It may look like an act of desperation but this is, on the contrary, an appeal for grassroots co-operation!
From little acorns, great oak trees go!
It’s only an idea at this point in time, so positive suggestions welcome to see if there is the wherewithal to turn it into a reality!
My €20 is ready and waiting.
If you would be prepared to share and support simply message positively and if the numbers look really healthy, we will launch the campaign over the months of January and February – or just before UEFA pull the plug!
You can send your suggestions as to what number of declared interest would trigger the setting up of the GO FUND ME campaign!