Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 17 July 2019
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport
Governance Review Group Report for the FAI Board and Sport Ireland: Sport Ireland
Mr. Kieran Mulvey:
On fiscal responsibility and as Mr. Treacy noted, we have expanded our terms of reference in terms of the obligatory and extensive nature of grant reporting obligations. We have been informed, legally and corporately, that this is okay. It arises from the controversies that arose not only in the FAI but also in other sporting and charitable organisations. We are heavily reliant on other State agencies, particularly the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement, which has a regulatory function under the Companies Act. On my last appearance before the committee, I may have posed the question as to who audits the auditors, but we also rely on auditors to do absolute due diligence. It came as a surprise to everyone that Deloitte placed in a H4 notice on previous accounts of the FAI. We do not have the competence or skill to undertake those audits. We have our own audit unit but, ultimately, when it comes to the law, there are bodies in place for regulatory purposes.
Deputy Catherine Murphy and Senator Ó Céidigh asked about the risks into the future. In the terms of reference relating to its audit, we have asked KOSI to evaluate those risks. We are aware, as Mr. Treacy indicated, that the FAI received either a letter of comfort or forward grant funding from UEFA-FIFA in the context of other moneys that may be due to the association from broadcasting rights relating to our international team, which is such a big focus of its activity. We will have to wait and see what they come back with in the context of identifying the external risks. I expect they are: first, loans the FAI must repay; second, potential income over the next season that it may achieve from broadcasting, transmission and attendances; third, the FAI's commercial arrangements with its sponsors, including the period for which the latter will continue to sponsor the association; and, fifth, the grant funding available from Sport Ireland, which is €2.78 million annually, as well as capital funding from the Department's regional programme and that for the individual clubs under the sports capital programme. There are myriad risks to current and future funding in that regard. The Minister has made it clear, as has Sport Ireland in the context of the funding we provide, that unless the Augean stables are cleared, there will be no forward funding.
We are holding the last tranche of the Sport Ireland grant until we are reassured that the FAI is governed appropriately and properly, that these reforms are accepted in their entirety and that it is given a clean bill of health. We await Deloitte's finding on that, what comes out of the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement and the KOSI audit, which I would like to see go coterminous in the autumn because our funding round for 2020 begins once we know what we are getting in the budget. Then our board will meet, look at the applications from our NGBs, local sports partnerships and others and we will make decisions as a board in December for the payout of funds, if we can, before the end of December so that NGBs can forward fund their own programmes, or in January. Many things need to come together in the audits, some of which we have control over and some key issues we do not.