New FAI chief executive Jonathan Hill told members at this afternoon's AGM that he had "no baggage" as he faced up to the huge challenges facing the association in the coming years.
Earlier this month it was announced that the FAI had made a loss of €5.1m for the financial year 2019, with the net current liabilities increasing from €58m at the end of the restated 2018 accounts to almost €70m at the end of last year.
The 2019 accounts included a €462,000 settlement agreed with former chief executive John Delaney.
Presenting the position for the financial year ending 2019, FAI Finance Director Alex O'Connell outlined the association's target to be cash positive (ie to have more money coming into the association than going out) within three years.
It was a stark reminder of the scale of the task facing Hill, who declared himself to be a Leeds United fan with a lifelong immersion in the game as he addressed delegates via Microsoft Teams.
Hill insisted the fact that he had "no baggage, no pre-existing relationships within football, government, or media" was a positive as he warned of the challenges ahead.
"We must remain relevant," said the former commercial director of the English FA who was announced as the new CEO in late October and has since been working remotely in London.
"The pace of change is intense, the complexity of change is significant."
The 2019 accounts were released on Monday 7 December, just as the draw for the 2022 World Cup qualifiers was reaching its conclusion.
Independent chairperson Roy Barrett denied that was an attempt to bury the news, insisting the timing was simply "unfortunate."
"The timing was unfortunate… there was no intention to hide anything or hide any bad news," Barrett said.
"The whole audit process just took so long and in terms of meeting the schedule of this meeting... that was the earliest day we could send them. The news is what it is.
"The earliest date we could have released it was on the Sunday and the board decided that wasn't appropriate because the FAI Cup final was on and we didn’t want to take away from that."
Barrett also declared his ambition to make the FAI "the leading sports organisation in the country."
"My experience of the last 11 months has told me the FAI is a unique association. There’s very few businesses where the people involved in that business have a real passion for what they do. That is the case with the FAI.
"It should be by far the leading sport and the FAI should be by far the leading sports organisation in the country. That’s what we’re aiming to achieve, and that’s what we will achieve."
There will be an EGM on 11 January at which members will vote to replace the FAI Council with a 150-person General Assembly.
At an EGM last August, the FAI Council voted 114-8 in favour of endorsing the Memorandum of Understanding which enabled the restoration of Government funding.