Northern Ireland’s Sports Minister has issued a stark warning for the Irish Football Association to sort itself out — or else.
Nelson McCausland called for a complete overhaul of football’s governing body and said an independent radical review should take place as soon as possible.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph after a turbulent week for the IFA, Mr McCausland cautioned that he could not hand over millions of pounds in public money to an organisation which was not yet fit for purpose.
“The IFA would need to agree to have a radical, independent review of their governance,” he said.
“That would be necessary to reassure the Government that the organisation is in a fit state to be the recipient of substantial money. I would be remiss if I was to hand over large sums of money without that reassurance. I would be criticised, and rightly so.”
According to the minister, a review could be carried out by the end of the year.
He added: “I think if you had the right team it shouldn’t be too prolonged. But I am disappointed that it has not already started.”
Mr McCausland claimed he, pundits, clubs, managers and fans were “bemused and saddened” by the crisis at the IFA and said the evidence for a change of governance was “overwhelming”.
“The £500,000 cost to the IFA because of the way they dismissed Howard Wells came on top of an earlier substantial payment to another employee,” he said.
Reassuring sceptics who have suggested money may not be available even if major changes are made at Windsor Avenue, Mr McCausland said: “Across all parties there is a commitment to deliver three high quality stadia right across Northern Ireland.”