The Annual General Meeting of the Football Association of Ireland is being held virtually this afternoon. 

Grant Thornton, the newly appointed auditors to the FAI, approved the accounts of the association but said there remains a material uncertainty which may cast significant doubt on the association's ability to continue as a going concern.

In his first address to delegates as independent chairperson, Roy Barrett recalled 2019 as the year football became accountable again and finally found a vision for the future through the pain of the past.

He said the financial statements show how deep that pain runs throughout the game but said he was confident, as we near the end of the most abnormal year in living memory, that Irish football will be the better for all of this.

Delegates heard that the accounts of the Association which were approved by the board recorded a loss in 2019 of over €5m. By the end of December last year the Association showed a figure of current liabilities of almost €70m.

The €5.1m loss was a decrease on the restated €7.7m loss in 2018, while net liabilities for 2019 amounted to €5.7m (a deterioration of €5.1m versus 2018). 

In the restated 2018 accounts, the net current liabilities came to €58.2m, meaning the 2019 figure has risen by €11.5m.

The 2019 accounts included a settlement of €462,000 with former CEO John Delaney.

FAI President Gerry McAnaney during the AGM at Abbotstown

In January 2020, a €30m rescue package including Government loans and grants of €20m, a UEFA contribution, and the restructuring of bank debt was agreed to save the FAI from potential liquidation.

Since then, the association has appointed an Audit Risk and Compliance Committee and was granted Covid-relief funds of €11m towards loss of income by the Government and an interest-free €5m loan from FIFA.

The Association says it will continue to work with its key funders to manage its financial commitments, including the €28.5m debt on the Aviva Stadium.

"The Association has completed forecasting under a range of scenarios to assess its ability to continue as a going concern throughout the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and beyond," read the FAI directors' report.

"These forecasts have been prepared on a prudent basis and indicate the Association’s ability to meet its liabilities as they fall due. Having considered the above, the directors have prepared these financial statements on a going concern basis.

"The directors appreciate that due to the ongoing public health crisis, and the impact this is having both globally and within Ireland, together with the inherent difficulties in predicting future cash inflows and expenditure, there remains a material uncertainty in respect of going concern for the foreseeable future."

In his delegates address, Barrett said: "This is my first opening address to an FAI Financial Report as chairperson of the Board of the Football Association of Ireland and it is fair to say that the attached 2019 accounts reflect a tumultuous year off the pitch for our game.

"Many column inches have been written about the events of 2019 surrounding the FAI and you don’t need me to itemise them again as we digest the financial implications of the winds of change that blew through the Association with the departure of the Chief Executive Officer, a major change at board level, a thorough evaluation of how we do our business and an examination of how we handle funds from the State and from the many sponsors who are our lifeblood.

"We will recall 2019 as the year Irish football became accountable again and finally found a vision for the future through the pain of the past. 

"Reports from the Governance Review Group, Mazars and KOSI have all highlighted the mistakes made and the changes that need to be implemented going forward, so many of which we have already instigated.

"Trust me, we are open to change and receptive to the reforms demanded by Government, UEFA, FIFA, our bankers and our members as proven by our National Council’s approval to Constitutional and rule changes.

"You will see from the attached financial statements how deep that pain runs throughout our game but I am confident, as we near the end of the most abnormal year in living memory, that Irish football will be the better for all of this.

"As directors, we owe it to all our stakeholders to ensure our Association and our game never endures a year like 2019 again. As chairperson, I promise you I will do my best to fulfil that aim and I know each of my fellow directors shares that sense of purpose.

"Every boy and girl in this country deserves an FAI that serves them well. They deserve international teams they can aspire to and be proud of."