War of words in Kilkenny over proposed FAI 'development officer' deal

A rift has emerged between local councillors on the issue

Sam Matthews

Reporter:

Sam Matthews

Email:

sam.matthews@kilkennypeople.ie

LOCAL COUNCILLORS CRY FOUL

A number of local councillors are not happy with the plans

A rift has emerged between local councillors over a new proposal to co-fund, with the FAI, the appointment of a soccer development officer in Kilkenny.

The issue came to light at Friday’s meeting of the Kilkenny City Municipal District in the context of a discussion about a reduction in funding to the area. Sinn Féin councillor David Kennedy said he couldn’t in good faith support a €20,000 cut, and ‘hand it over’ to the FAI. He said it was the FAI’s job to fund and support soccer clubs.

He was backed up by Cllr Patrick McKee, who said he did not believe it was fair and equitable, given a proposed €20,000  reduction, to enter into a contract with the FAI for €75,000 over the next three years.

“The FAI have enough money and we shouldn’t be using public monies to fund that,” he said.

Defending the proposal, Cllr Matt Doran said Kilkenny was one of few counties without a development officer. He said the plan was €25,000 for one year, and it would be reviewed on a quarterly basis. 

Director of services Tim Butler added that the FAI have set out a three-year programme but members can only commit to €25,000 a year, one year at a time.

Cllr Doran said the FAI had provided significant money to local clubs. He said he himself was not a soccer fan - rather a GAA man - but that he was impressed with the plan and details supplied by the FAI.

Cllr David Fitzgerald said the council had provided 'well beyond that' for the GAA and other organisations, such as at Dunmore, or the new footpath out to Foulkstown which will benefit the rugby club. He said they had helped fund the facility at the Fairgreen for soccer.

“It shouldn’t be forgotten too that the Watershed was provided by the council,” he said.

“Kilkenny County Council and the borough council have a long history of supporting sport, and this is simply another element."

Cllr McKee said this was different from investment in infrastructure.

“We are entering into a contract to employ someone for a function I believe the FAI should do themselves,” he said.

He said giving that money to the FAI was not a priority for him, while protecting the city’s municipal allocation was.

With members clearly at odds, the issue is expected to resurface when the full council holds its budget meeting on November 24.