Varadkar: Investigation needed to restore confidence in FAI

The Irish premier has said an investigation into the financial affairs of the Football Association of Ireland needs to be conducted.

Leo Varadkar said the Government shared the concerns of taxpayers and the anger of football fans over the revelations about how the FAI has been run in recent years.

It comes as the entire board of the FAI indicated they will step down.

The organisation has been under fire since it emerged that ex-chief executive John Delaney provided a bridging loan in April 2017 to prevent it exceeding its 1.5 million (£1.3 million) euro bank overdraft.

Mr Delaney has insisted he acted in the best interests of the game

Mr Varadkar told the Dail on Tuesday: “Investigations are necessary – investigations by Sport Ireland – into the accounts and finances of FAI and it also may be necessary for the ODCE (Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement) to carry out investigations under company law.

“The objective must be to restore confidence in how the FAI is being run.”

The matter was discussed by Cabinet ministers on Tuesday morning.

Mr Varadkar was responding to calls from opposition leader Micheal Martin for an audit of the FAI before Government funding is restored.

The Fianna Fail leader said many people at ground level were “extremely angry” and that Irish people had been denied an open and straightforward explanation about the loan.

Taoiseach Mr Varadkar agreed with Mr Martin “that Sports Ireland needs to carry out an investigation in the form of a robust, independent audit of the FAI’s finances in recent years”.

Mr Varadkar said about 5% of the FAI’s funding came from Government agencies. It was suspended by Sport Ireland last week following the revelations.

The Taoiseach said it could not be restated “until the accounting problems, the financial irregularities and the corporate governance problems in the FAI are put right”.

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