FAI chief executive Bernard O'Byrne ended months of speculation when he agreed to an early retirement severance package from the FAI following a lengthy Board of Managment meeting at Merrion Square last night. O'Byrne's position at the helm of Irish soccer has been in question since the collapse of the eircom Park project and his personal dealings with a company credit card.

The Board had spent most of the day in talks with O'Byrne over his future after an investigation by the association's financial sub-committee alleged he was guilty of a number of financial irregularities. The sub-committee findings claimed that O'Byrne mis-used a company credit card on a number of occasions during his four-and-a-half years in office. O'Byrne has vigorously denied any impropriety regarding the use of the credit card but has admitted to a number of clerical errors.

It is understood the officers of the association met privately with O'Byrne before the meeting and asked him to consider his position. Following the conclusion of the meeting, O'Byrne left the FAI headquarters through the backdoor to avoid the waiting press.

The FAI later revealed in a statement that the officers of the association had taken legal advice regarding the contents of the report and that O'Byrne himself sought legal advice before he requested that the association discuss a confidential voluntary retirement package with him over the coming days. According to the statement "the Board discussed the matter at some length and agreed by an overwhelming majority to authorise the officers to negotiate such a package". It is expected that the matter will be resolved by May 1, when the FAI will advertise for a new chief executive.

Filed by Shane Murray