Minister for Transport Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross TD is confident that plans to restructure the FAI will proceed and dismissed concerns over the changes raised by a member of the FAI Schools National Executive. 

Nixon Morton, a member of the FAI Schools National Executive, raised questions over the direction of the FAI's reforms and wrote a letter to FIFA and UEFA to express concern that the football governing body may be losing sovereignty.

Morton claims that the consequences of acceding to a number of the key demands in the memorandum of understanding between the FAI and Government are "extraordinarily serious" and that his submission outlines the "very real concerns of a representative sample of our football family".

However both the FAI and Mr Ross have signalled clear intent to continue with changes to the structure of the organisation and stressed the importance of regaining trust from the public.

Shane Ross: "It is absolutely vital for us that there is not a return of the old guard"

In response to questions on the FAI to be tabled in the Dáil, Mr Ross told RTÉ that the reforms will proceed as planned and he alluded to 'an agenda' among the 'old guard' of the FAI.

He said: "The really important thing for us is that we got independence in there and that we got an independent majority in there. The old (FAI) board was not independent at all it was a clique, it was the old guard and it was intransigent and it was trying to stay on.

"We wanted to see a complete clear out of the board.

"We got that clear out of the board and we now have a situation where there's going to be a six-all division as I understand it. 

"It's going to be totally reformed and the independents will have the casting vote. 

"It is absolutely vital for us that there is not a return of the old guard and those people who today are kicking up and writing letters to UEFA and that, I think that’s what their agenda is, actually a return of the old guard, we’re not going to let that happen if we can do anything about it."

Roy Barrett

Regarding the selection of Roy Barrett as Independent Chairperson RTÉ News understands that his name wasn’t on the original shortlist drawn up by recruitment firm AMROP.

When asked about that, Ross replied: "I can't help you on that. There was a group called AMROP who is an independently selected group by the FAI, not by me at all and they made a list. 

"I never saw that list. I can’t help you on that. I was hands off on this. 

"I obviously had strong opinions on it and I have to say when Roy Barrett’s name came up and I saw it I was absolutely delighted because I knew he didn’t belong to the old guard he wasn’t part of that and he was going to be reformist. 

"And I was equally delighted when they appointed the independent directors none of whom, I think, I knew at all but who were obviously independent as well."

The Memorandum of Understanding drawn up between the government and the FAI insisted that all FAI board or council members with ten years or more service had to step down at the next AGM although agreement had been reached following adoption of the Governance Review Report that they should remain on for three years up to 2022.

Ross explained: "We wanted to hurry up the reform. The old guard wanted to keep on going. 

"People who had been in there ten years already, this was the problem with the FAI. There were people who were intransigent, who had been there far too long. 

"They weren't in favour of reform, they wanted to keep the the old bad ways going. What we wanted to do was hurry it up.

"What we did was we said no, we’ve got to hurry this up. Football needs reform. Football needs money but it also needs reform. 

"We want this reform, we want football to flourish but we must see proper governance in Irish football if that's to happen"

"Government money was not going to go unless football was properly reformed. 

"We got it in the end and we hope to see more of it in the next few months.

"We also have the situation where the Chief Executive - who was appointed as an interim Chief Executive - his job is now being advertised. There’s going to be a full, clean process the like of which you’ve never seen before in the FAI. 

"I’m very encouraged for the results, 

"I’m very disappointed that somebody has written to UEFA and FIFA and said they want the old ways back. We don’t want that. We want this reform, we want football to flourish but we must see proper governance in Irish football if that’s to happen."

Regarding the involvement of Sport Ireland in relation to funding conditions for the FAI, the Minister explained: 

"I was in touch with Sport Ireland about virtually everything along the way, as I should be, particularly about Irish football which needed reform. We were absolutely at one about the need for reform. We were at one about the funding and how it should be distributed. It would be remiss of me not to consult with my agency on issues like this and I was certainly consulting with them about this at all times"

Earlier today the FAI released a statement which also reconfirmed their commitment to the changes.

The statement read: "The Board of the Football Association of Ireland unanimously agreed at a meeting on Tuesday night to proceed with its plans to develop a strategy incorporating a planned restructuring of the Association, supported by the required constitutional reform for the benefit of everyone involved in football in Ireland.

"The Board is further committed to regaining the trust of the public and the key stakeholders who are supporting the Association to help them achieve that plan. The Board are further committed to implementing the highest standards of corporate governance and will ensure that all those involved in the game of football will be represented democratically in any future structure.

"The Board of the FAI is available to engage in dialogue with any stakeholder with constructive input during this process, in the interest of developing and promoting the game in Ireland.