The FAI have said FAI Council members who have more than ten years' experience could actually stay on, but denied this contradicts the terms agreed in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that was drawn up as part of the rescue package last January. 

The association has been told it will not receive any funding support until it makes the changes agreed in the MoU, which included amendments to some of the terms of the governance.

The most controversial changes have been an increase in the number of independent directors from four to six, and a clause that FAI Council members who have served for 10 years should step down this year.

These changes must be ratified at an EGM, which will take place on 31 August.

However today, FAI interim CEO Gary Owens said that even long-serving FAI Council members could remain if they satisfy the requirements laid out in an electoral code the FAI has adopted from FIFA.

The FAI will sit down with the 78-person council on Friday for what interim deputy CEO Niall Quinn has called "an information meeting".

Speaking at Abbotstown, Owens said that "there's always been the spirit of the interpretation that we were going to adopt the FIFA principles", when detailing how FAI Council members' eligibility will be reviewed going forward.

"The MoU is not going to change. What is going to be applied though, in relation to the ten-year rule, is the way we adopt the electoral code to that ten-year rule." - Gary Owens

Rather than easing out any Council member who have been present for over a decade, Owens said their suitability will be judged on an electoral code that considers the following: a fit and proper test, an individual's skill set, and whether that individual has any potential conflict of interests.

"I mean effectively what we're doing is saying, we’re not targeting individuals, we’re basically putting in criteria," said Owens. 

"The criteria is, 'are you fit and proper?’ And that means you’ve no history in relation to directors of companies or whatever, you weren’t in prison, whatever all the fit and proper tests are.

"The second thing is basically that you have the skill sets to sit. If someone is going to sit on a business committee or a financial committee that they have the expertise or they are a qualified accountant. The third thing is, that they’re not conflicted. So they can’t be involved of some part of the Association that’s actually conflicted with the role they are going to play." 

Refuting a suggestion that this constitutes a change to the MoU, Owens added: "No, the MoU is not going to change. What is going to be applied though, in relation to the ten-year rule, is the way we adopt the electoral code to that ten-year rule." 

When asked outright if any Council member with more than ten years’ experience will have to step away at the next AGM, Owens replied: "They’ll have to go through a fit and proper test", while interim deputy CEO Niall Quinn said they "could remain".

Owens then said: "The memorandum of understanding is the memorandum of understanding. We're basically making sure that anybody that’s on any committee or board will have a fit and proper test." 

While the status of those long-serving Council members does not appear to be completely clear at this point, there will be no budging on the 50-50 split on the board between independent and football directors. 

"[The government] basically said, 'if you want the money, we need to be convinced that you have the right skill sets around the table and we require you to have six independent directors’," said Owens.

"You need people with very strong football skills and you need people with very strong business skills because it is a business.

"When you’re dealing with the level of money we’re dealing with, and you’re dealing with the complexity of that money, it’s a serious business. It needs to be managed and treated as a business, and that’s what the people who are giving us the money wanted us to do.

"The people lending the money are convinced we need six independent directors and six skill sets. We were in a mess. We had €52.5m of debt. We have the worst profile we ever could have had.

"We're making sure the criteria of fit and proper skills sets that are relevant to the job roles that people are going to have and conflict of interests are not there. That will radically change the association."