It's been a long and winding road to the FAI's EGM, which takes place (virtually) at Abbotstown on Monday.

After John Delaney stepped aside as CEO in April 2019 following revelations of a €100,000 loan he gave to the association, the lid was fully lifted on Irish football's dysfunctional, broken governing body. It wasn't a pretty sight.

Unravelling the full extent of the FAI's financial plight has a been slow and painful process. The structural issues at board and committee level have proven to be so deep rooted that every attempted twist towards positive change seems hit a fresh nerve, sparking more disagreement, more debate. 

Now, we stand at a crucial crossroads.

Last January, a rescue package was agreed between the FAI, UEFA, the Irish Government and Bank of Ireland.

This agreement was essential to preventing the FAI from becoming insolvent.

FAI independent chairman Roy Barrett

Grant aid - which had been frozen for eight months - was restored and doubled to €5.8m a year, with an interest-free loan of €2.5m per annum from 2020 until 2022 also on the table.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was drawn up as part of the rescue package, with the association made aware that the funding support would only arrive once the changes agreed in that MoU were pushed through. Those changes must be ratified at the EGM.

There are, however, a couple of sticking points.

For a start, not everybody is too pleased with some of the terms of the MoU - chiefly the recommended increase in the number of independent directors from four to six.

That would make the 12-person board a 50-50 split between independents and football-elected directors. The casting vote would go to the independent chair, a role currently filled by Roy Barrett who was appointed by the FAI at the start of the year. This amendment to the board's make-up has, to put it lightly, proved divisive.

There's also been unrest with regards to the actual signing off of the MoU. 

In July, Fianna Fáil TD Marc MacSharry claimed in the Dáil that Barrett had signed off on the agreement without it being approved by the board.

FAI interim CEO Gary Owens rejected that suggestion earlier this month, which sparked an angry riposte from the eight football directors who make up the current board. They released a statement which said they didn't approve the MoU before it was signed, that they only received a draft copy of the MoU, raised concerns about some of the conditions to Barrett via email and then got no reply.

Barrett claims that while some discontent was expressed, it had previously been agreed by the board that ensuring the financial future of our association was of the utmost importance.

The MoU was signed off on that day.

There's been a hum of rancour and dissent in the background ever since.

FAI Council member Nixon Morton

In June, FAI Council member Nixon Morton wrote to FIFA and UEFA to air his view that the association was going to lose its sovereignty due to the increased number of independents.

In early August he was back in the headlines when he threatened the FAI with legal action if they did not hold their their AGM [which had been due to take place on 25 July] before 31 August. 

All of these arguments and counter-arguments played out publicly in the lead-up to a clear-the-air meeting between the board and the council at the Red Cow Hotel in Dublin. An uneasy truce was formed after that meeting, with most conceding that the terms of the rescue package simply have to be passed to prevent the association going bust. 

But the sniping has not subsided.

After the meeting at the Red Cow, Shelbourne chairman Andrew Doyle wrote to Barrett to inform him of his resignation from the FAI's Finance Committee, one of three sub-committees formed last October as part of recommendations made by the Governance Review Group.

Doyle aired his dismay at the fact the Finance Committee has yet to actually convene. "I'm not entirely sure it is possible to resign from a committee which does not yet exist, but I do so in any event," he wrote. 

Cabinteely's Larry Bass was also elected to the Finance Committee in the autumn of 2019, declaring at the time: "I believe in getting s**t done."

On Thursday he too wrote to Barrett, urging him to resign. 

Bass questioned Barrett's appointment as independent chairman, saying he was not on a formal shortlist and was recommended by a senior representative of the Bank of Ireland.

Since Barrett was tasked with renegotiating the FAI's Bank of Ireland debt, Bass said that represented a clear conflict of interest.

The FAI strongly rejected those claims. 

Gary Owens with Niall Quinn

"Roy Barrett was identified by [recruitment firm] Amrop, recommended by them to the nominations committee of the FAI and his appointment was approved by the board," a spokesperson told RTÉ Sport's Tony O'Donoghue. "Any other assertion is just misleading and deflects from the real issues facing the association and the decisions that need to be made to safeguard the future of Irish football."

In what could be construed to be something of a positive, the FAI last night received confirmation from the government that they can essentially reinterpret a clause in the MoU that says Council members who have served for 10 years should step down this year. 

FAI interim CEO Gary Owens said three weeks ago that long-serving members could actually stay on if they satisfy a fit and proper persons test, which would be part of an electoral code the FAI has adopted from FIFA.

This will help to defuse at least some of the lingering tension between the board and the Council.

Giving the casting vote on the board to the FAI President, rather than the independent chairman, would also potentially ease those tensions. 

First and foremost, these reforms require a two-thirds majority to pass and to keep the show on the road.

Interim deputy CEO Niall Quinn, whose own future at the association remains uncertain until the completion of the EGM, has been repeatedly calling for some unity.

"Monday is a big day for all of us," Quinn declared midweek. "I'll wait and see how that goes before I finalise exactly where I'm going because there might not be any point! But hopefully that's not the case."

He's keen to stay on in some capacity but Quinn, like the rest of us, can't say with any conviction how the landscape will look beyond tomorrow.

There are many hands waving in the air, all looking to make a case for how the FAI best moves forward.

They're just not all pointing in the same direction as an arduous journey reaches its most crucial juncture.