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Saturday 2 December 2023 Dublin: 2°C
Ryan Byrne/INPHO FAI CEO Jonathan Hill.
FAI Governance

Government releases frozen funding following FAI's 'corrective actions' on CEO pay controversy

Payments made to Jonathan Hill in 2022 – which have since been repaid in full – breached the FAI’s Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Government.

SPORT IRELAND LIFTED its suspension of FAI funding on Friday, ending the payment freeze in place since the emergence of issues surrounding payments to chief executive Jonathan Hill.

An audit by Sport Ireland found that benefit in kind payments made to Hill in 2022, as well as money paid in lieu of holiday leave, breached the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Association and the Government.

Article 35 of the MOU states that the CEO’s remuneration must not exceed that of a secretary general of a Government department. In response to the revelations, Sport Ireland withheld a total of €6.8 million in funding to the football governing body.

Hill has since repaid the €20,000 concerned in full and apologised unreservedly to FAI staff “for my part in this error and the negativity and unwanted noise this has caused”.

In a statement on Friday, Sport Ireland confirmed “that funding to the FAI has been resumed today, in accordance with the MOU between the Government and the FAI.

“The resumption of funding follows detailed engagement with the FAI in recent weeks on the corrective actions taken by the FAI in response to an audit commissioned by Sport Ireland on MOU compliance.

“Work continues to monitor the FAl’s adherence to the conditions of the MOU.”

It added: “Notwithstanding recent challenges, Sport Ireland acknowledges the significant progress made by the FAl on its governance reform agenda in recent years. Sport Ireland will continue to support the reform of the FAl in accordance with the MOU.”

In a separate statement, the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media stated that Sport Ireland is “adequately assured” that both the MOU and the findings of the audit have been “satisfactorily implemented”.

The statement read: “As confirmed previously by Sport Ireland, there was a delay in the release of funding to the FAI, pending necessary clarification of compliance by the FAI with aspects of the MOU.

“Sport Ireland provided the Department and the Ministers with a report on this matter which has now been reviewed.

“Sport Ireland is adequately assured that MOU Condition No. 35 is now embedded in the FAI and that the KOSI audit findings completed in September 2023, together with the recommendations in relation to same, have been satisfactorily implemented by the FAI.

“On foot of this, the Department informed Sport Ireland yesterday, 30 November 2023, that they may release funding to the FAI.

“No decision in relation to funding for the FAI in 2024 has been made as of yet. It is normal practice for Sport Ireland to announce funding for all sporting bodies in the new year.”

– Additional reporting by Gavin Cooney

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