Sinn Fein TD Jonathan O'Brien has called on the government to prepare for the possibility of the FAI going into examinership, despite their unwillingness to commit to a bailout deal.
This morning's Oireachtas Sports Committee saw doubts raised over the future of the League of Ireland with Minister Shane Ross saying: "My guess is if the FAI goes, the League of Ireland goes the same way. I think that is absolutely inevitable."
That comment was returned to in the afternoon session, with Maurice Quinlivan TD claiming it has caused considerable worry to the industry which employs hundreds of people.
"My guess is if the FAI goes, the League of Ireland goes the same way. I think that is absolutely inevitable."— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) December 18, 2019
Minister Shane Ross has warned the League of Ireland could collapse alongside the FAI in the current crisis. pic.twitter.com/FysW3VAPtr
Jonathan O’Brien pressed the issue further. The former Cork City chairman hit out at the Association’s former regime in an angry outburst.
O’Brien said that if funds are not going to be given to the body, another plan must come from forward.
He said: "League of Ireland supporters for years have been trying to explain exactly how the FAI operates. They have ridiculed us, they have laughed at us, they threw some of us out of football grounds.
"We were not the problem child. The FAI were the absentee fathers who didn't give an absolute ******** about the League of Ireland.
"We have a situation where the very future of Irish football is on the brink here. It is on the brink and we are reliant on organisation which has proved it cannot operate with due diligence to actually be the guardians and savours of Irish football."
O’Brien added that financial assistance from the government may be the only solution given how severe the crisis is.
"I don’t want to see a situation where the FAI is liquidated. The consequences are too great to comprehend but I am starting to come to the belief that if we are serious about protecting the future of Irish football then you may end up in a scenario where the FAI goes into examinership.
"If that was to happen, it would require financing, possibly State financing. That is the only way you are going to protect your national teams, your leagues, as well as your grassroots. It is the only way you are going to do it.
"As I said, we cannot allow a situation where the FAI is liquidated. The consequences are unbearable If it goes into examinership, somebody has to step in and we need to be preparing for that now.
"I don’t want to be waking up some morning and saying the FAI has gone into examinership and we are not prepared for somebody to take it back out to protect Irish football."
"The Ministers are seeking to clarify this matter with UEFA"
Mr Ross has asked Sport Ireland to arrange a meeting with representatives of the League of Ireland clubs and players in advance of the meeting with UEFA on 14 January.
A statement released this evening read: "Arising out of a number of hypothetical questions raised at today's meeting... Minister Ross and Minister of State Brendan Griffin wish to clarify matters around the future of the League of Ireland in the event that the FAI’s financial situation should deteriorate further.
"The Ministers are seeking to clarify this matter with UEFA in advance of their upcoming meeting next month.
"The Ministers recognise the need to have certainty around this point as a matter of urgency and hope that it will be possible for UEFA to provide certainty for the players and support staff employed by the League of Ireland clubs."
A statement from the Premier Clubs Alliance said that it had been seeking such a meeting and "looked forward to outlining the contribution of the League of Ireland to Irish football in more detail to the Ministers."