UEFA chief tells Shane Ross that Noel Mooney is an FAI president

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Noel Mooney. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross says that UEFA President Alexander Ceferin has told him that Noel Mooney’s appointment as interim General Manager in Abbotstown was a decision taken by the FAI, not UEFA.

While acknowledging that his conversation with the UEFA President was “very short” and “on a very bad line to Baku”, Minister Ross said it was made absolutely clear to him that it was the FAI who made the appointment.

“The reason I made contact with Ceferin was to find out exactly what was going on, and what the truth of the matter was,” he told reporters after today’s Irish Football Stakeholder Forum at the Mansion House in Dublin.

“I wanted to find out who had made the appointment, and where the initiative came from. Even on a very bad line I did ascertain that.

They were obviously prepared to release him, but they made it absolutely clear that it was the FAI that made the appointment. Absolutely, without a doubt, unequivocally.

The Minister said that the poor quality of the line meant they had to abandon their conversation but he said he plans to resume his contact with Ceferin next week “to talk to him further about ancilliary matters.”

Mooney is due to begin his six month secondment from UEFA with the FAI on Monday but the Sports Minister has called on Irish football’s governing body to reconsider the appointment of a former employee with links to the troubled association’s past.

“My view about Mooney’s appointment is that it is the wrong appointment and that we have to go to somebody who is new and independent of the FAI,” he said.

“I think it would be wrong to make any insider appointments, of course I do. We want a fresh slate of appointments, we want to see change in corporate governance, we want to see change in the FAI.

“This isn’t actually consistent with the reform agenda which we’re pursuing.

“What I do want to is see somebody who’s independent and I want to see a proper process for appointing somebody in the FAI.

“As long as they’re independent and there’s a proper process seen to be visibly independent, I think that would be adequate.

“What is not acceptable is that someone who’s got very strong past or present links with the FAI should be appointed.”

Earlier today, Minister Ross said he had met with the FAI and asked them to reconsider Mooney’s appointment.

“I’ve spoken to the FAI,” he said. “We had a meeting, Mr (Brendan) Griffin and I, with the FAI last week and we asked them to reconsider.

I hope that they are reconsidering that at the moment because it would fracture relations further if they did take a step back.

“They’ve taken a step forward in saying (the board) are going to resign. That’s something which we would thoroughly welcome.

“I think it would be a step back if they decided to appoint, without any transparent process, a general manager who hasn’t been through a process and is not independent, having been with the FAI in the past.”

The Minister said that while he is “very keen” to see the currently suspended Sport Ireland funding of the FAI restored as soon as possible, the appointment of Noel Mooney “does not help matters”.

He added: “That’s a decision which the FAI has certainly provisionally made. Hopefully it’s one they’ll change their mind on.”

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