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This is OTV and this liberal team are going to close to a league title. Fair enough. That's a great achievement. But that man, a team where an all time great, because they weren't playing very well early in the season, does everything have to happen in the same period of time to not have those elements on that team in the Champions League in the league this year, but but not a third to equal, as you know, the travel season.
They have to win at least the Champions League in the league. Right. And you could say that by not winning a cup, if they don't want to go, then they're not sars-cov-2 season. I was going to say we want to travel. Did you want to travel? No.
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A huge night last night for the FBI there. Much talked about. MGM was held essentially remotely to give those people with the vote the opportunity to decide whether or not they backed the plans put in place by the current board and the independent chairman and the interim chief executive having done to deal with the government and various other stakeholders, including the banks, the Bank of Ireland, specifically the Bank of Ireland, back in March. Now, at this point, there has been much debate recently about it.
There was the meeting a couple of weeks ago at the Ryuko where there was an opportunity to clear the air, some changes as a result of that meeting or agreed with the government, some stuff that looked like it had been set in stone by the agreement and the memorandum of understanding that had been signed ultimately ended up being negotiable. And a few concessions were made. And the independent chairman no longer has the casting vote. The six and six breakdown of the board will actually go ahead and continue.
The 10 year term limits for those people who are currently on committees has been essentially extended for another couple of years to give people at least another couple of years to get used to the idea of 10 year term limits. So we're going to speak with Larry Bass in a moment. First of all, I want to bring you this from last night. We have the FBI interim CEO, Gary Owens, talking with Joe, followed by the independent chairman, Roy Barrett, speaking to Nathan Murphy.
So two quick clip for you to give you a sense of what they're talking about last night and specifically about the role of the governor of the Bank of Ireland in the appointment of Roy Barrett. Have a look. But you don't want this around the FBI anymore. None of us want this around the FBI. We don't want to come in this way either. You know, I mean, how many months are we into it? And we find out the Patrick Kennedy link and all of that, just for obvious reasons, leaves people a little bit uneasy, to say the least.
Why? Why are we finding out about this? Why is it coming out this way? Well, I think, Joe, I think to be fair, Rob, where the people who were employed to recommend people to the nominations committee and, you know, really went through that process and everybody reached out to different people and they probably all do to to sort of achieve that.
And do you think do you think given do you think, given the Bank of Ireland situation with the FBI and Rob should have been going near Patrick Kennedy? And I don't know whether he did or not, to be honest, I don't know the circumstances or whatever of how to break them or I'm trying to tell you either way I would put it in that phone call shouldn't happen.
Bank of Ireland should not be consulted when it comes to an FBI hiring. I we're doing if we're doing things properly, Bank of Ireland shouldn't be anywhere near that. Well, I think I would certainly accept the point in terms of potential conflict of interest, but I think what we were left was I basically came in just as the employee was being basically signed and how to sort of finalize the arrangements with Bank of Ireland. And quite honestly, there was nobody else interested in you know, we did we did make one or two conversations.
I had one or two conversations, alternatives to see whether or not we could get cheaper financing. And nobody was interested in providing us with the type of support that we needed. And we were working constantly would support Ireland and the department and indeed UEFA and FIFA to try and get the guarantees in place that would actually allow the Bank of Ireland to give us the money. So, you know, I go as far as I was the only show in town at the time.
As you say, like it's such a shame that Steven and the team starts in Bulgaria on Thursday, which I'm really looking forward to. That'll be good to talk about football there and Finland at the weekend. And we have no people who are able to attend that. So that's a that's a real shame. That's going to be a real challenge for the organization. I understand there were several questions about your appointment and the role of Patrick Kennedy within that.
Yeah. From Bank of Ireland, yeah. When did you first speak to Patrick Kennedy about this job? I only spoke to Patrick once when I was approached by Amra AM. And I spoke with that camera. They told me that a number of people had recommended me include including Patrick. I talked to Patrick after that meeting for about two or three minutes. And and that's what it was. So so I think quite a lot has been made of it.
And there's a bit of a conspiracy theory around it. But there's nothing untoward in my view, and certainly in terms of my dealing with Bank of Ireland or any of the stakeholders, you know, didn't represent any form of conflict whatsoever. No, didn't.
Did you not think at any stage when you're having that very short conversation with them that I had to him being the head of the main banker for a debt ridden organisation may well be a conflict, even viewed as a conflict from the outside. But you have to remember, when I had that conversation, I hadn't I had only just been approached.
And what I did, having met the first the first time, was that I would think about the role and in thinking of what I wanted to meet a number of people, including people from the FBI, from the accountants, Grant Thornton, from the Department for the Ministers, artists from Sport, Ireland and from and Mr. Horan, who did the get the governance reforms to acquaint myself with all of the issues and make a decision as to whether I thought I could help the organisation or not.
So so in terms of did I think that that meeting in any way compromised me? No, not at all, actually.
There's a lot of talk this week of a new era both on and off the pitch. But do you think this story has something of a shadow over that, that the transparency that people would expect from the new FAA maybe isn't quite there, but it's completely transparent and it's completely transparent? AMREF approached me on the number on the basis of a number of recommendations, one of whom we now know. And it's as simple as that. It's actually quite normal way of doing business.
OK, so that is Roy Barratt was the last voice you heard there before that you heard Gary Owens both speaking with Nathan and Joe last night, Larry Abbass, the chairman of Coventry and also a member of one of the House Finance Committee. Good morning to you. How are you? More and more of you good, so you've had relatively prominent role in this story becoming public over the last few days. Can you maybe spool us back a couple of days to the point where I think you actually wrote a letter to Roy Barron?
Is that how this began to emerge? I've written a few letters to Roy virus, and that's suppose you need to spool back further. I was one of these people to send you post the governance review last summer. I was asked to put forward for a couple of committees on the FBI and to the FBI council. I put my name forward for the Finance Committee because I felt I could bring some experience to bear. I've been on finance, audit and risk committees of national boards and I thought that the FBI is something that needed to clean up its governance act as one of the things was pretty obvious.
So I was looking forward to getting my sleeves rolled up and helping others, if I can, and trying to help chart a part back to successful. Football Association and as as Roy and Bogarde have both said, you know, we need to put the past behind us and move on with the football. Well, unfortunately, they haven't covered a certain glory when it comes to corporate governance. The simple fact of having a finance committee overseeing the use and the producer duties to just question the financial arrangements or implications for the organization they have met.
So I can see no reason to keep kicking the torch and giving excuses and with no terms of reference. Well, that was and they said they weren't happy with the terms of reference. Yes. And, you know, there's an interim board, an interim chair, an interim CEO. You could have an interim finance committee and set up the questions and get omotoso excuses aren't good enough. I would like to see the Finance Committee being established and and doing what it's supposed to do there.
Can I just can I just I'm sorry to interrupt, because I was Gary Owens isn't here, and I don't want to forget this part of the story too much because there's loads to get our teeth into. But I did tell Joe on last night's show that there they brought that to the board and the current board were unhappy with the terms of reference because they felt that it was reducing their power of oversight. Now, whether or not that's true, I suspect you have a different view, and that's fair enough.
And look, the sooner all these committees get up and running and are reported reporting to the board and we all have a sense of of those committees functioning properly, which is, I think what we want, then that will be good. Was that enough for you with that? Was that enough of a red flag straight away? Do you have any sympathy with the view that, like, your committee gets formed last, I think October and the new independent chair comes in in January and then the CEO comes in after that.
So technically, it's not their committee. And and I can understand that there was a massive flaming fire. The House is on fire over here with the possibility of the entire organisation going bust. You probably want to put that fire out first before this fire over here. Maybe they should have been doing a little bit of firefighting on both sides. Yeah, you know, if you're going into a forest fire, you want to make sure you could cover all around and I think ignoring simple corporate governance, when you're doing something on an organization where corporate governance goes to the fore, is is Carrodus is the best way I could describe it for if nothing else.
And I think if there was an issue, if the board had a concern over the terms of reference, which nobody had said anything about, that until these recent excuses started coming out, it's never conveyed to us it was any issue they should have just met. And if there was to be parameters around what the Finance Committee could say or do, that could be put in place. But just ignoring it and not putting in place. I was elected by the council, so I'm answering to the council as a person on the Finance Committee representing the council.
I was asking questions in relation to finance and when it came to hearing the RoboRoach was potentially conflicted and his role as the chair to any relationship he may have with the single biggest creditor. I just have to ask the question. I asked the question. And to me, I don't believe it's been answered correctly. If you have one single creditor who is a major creditor and then the creditor has a role in whatever the role is in appointing the person who's going to oversee the negotiation on that debt, and that simply feels to me incorrect.
Just again, to to play devil's advocate, to tease this out a little bit, OK, Neil Reardon had a piece last week where this the more details of this emerged. He said the pirates secured the job when two preferred candidates declined and a third was not approached. Like in that instance, I can see how I'm up end up going, OK, look, we need a list of people here, the first two people who've gone to have said no thanks.
And then a third candidate is not a I don't know why the third candidate wouldn't been approached, but it doesn't seem like there was a whole slew of people queuing up to take this gig. Again, I wasn't part of that process. My understanding is that there were a number of names or candidates preferred and, you know, out of the blue or Roy's name came into the fold. Look, I've never met Roy. I've never had a conversation with the man.
And he could be an absolute fantastic lawyer. I just think the way this is operated is incorrect. As a member of the Finance Committee, I was questioning it. And we do have to get our house in order. We do have to get things right. But shutting up shop on one of the most serious parts of corporate governance and just ignoring us and, you know, a situation where we know we can move on, a decision is made.
And I'm a Democrat like everybody else, and we can try and move on and do the work that's supposed to be doing. The Finance Committee still hasn't been put together. And the latest I heard was it might be convened in March. But if I'm led to believe what Gary Owens is saying, bring it in the right and proper test for all candidates for these committees. So am I right and proper, our voters, there's nothing to stop the committee being formed.
You post AGM at the at least at the latest, as far as I'm concerned, not waiting until March.
So March, March next year. Well, that's what Gary Owen said in a recent interview. But that does seem to be quite far away. Look, I think you're right to be asking questions. I think given the amount of public money that's gone in and given the fact that essentially the final guarantee on a portion of the loan, some of it seems to be being guaranteed by UEFA and FIFA and some of it seems to be being guaranteed by the government.
So absolutely, I think everybody wants a strong finance committee, which, you know, isn't just in in controlled by the board, essentially, because like like this there needs to be checks and balances. And certainly history shows that the more checks and balances there are in all of our sports organizations, the better it's going to be. Do you have concerns that the board were concerned about the powers of the Finance Committee? If that story is accurate, well, if there is to concern, what is the problem, let's hear about this what openness and transparency is.
And I would ask a question to minister. The previous minister obviously had a close relationship with Roy and the incumbent minister. I don't know what her relationship is, but asking questions about some of the roles and just getting all the facts I would have thought is critical. Nobody has contacted me. It's no secret that I have questions about the various aspects. And if the government are going to stand over something, you would think that they would check out all the facts around these things and support Ireland again, that no conversations there.
They don't have to contact me. But all I did was ask questions. That's that's what I see. The role of Finance Committee or an audit and risk committee. You're not there to do the work. You're not there to do the negotiation. You're not there to set out the agenda for spending the cash, but you are there to oversee and ask questions. Is it being done correctly?
And how many people are on that committee as a matter of interest? How many of you are there? Well, there were two elected to the council and then there needed to be somebody, I think from the board would be appointed as the chair of the committee and then a couple of independent members. That's my understanding. But because we have met, I couldn't honestly answer any more. But a finance committee and tribunal previously could be anything from three people to five people.
And what just explain for the people who are listening who might be unfamiliar. If you're not setting financial policy, you're not doing deals. What exactly are you doing?
Well, you're questioning someone. The executive and or the board are setting those policy that you're there as a sort of the full stop to make sure that the right and correct questions have been asked. I mean, that's why I've said, you know, and I'd like to have seen as Finance Committee member, I'd like to seen some cost benefit analysis on the options. I mean, there was one option put to the council last night and that option, having spent six months trying to control the board and wanting to have control of the boards, and they capitulated a couple of weeks ago to change the rules, to allow the president to have the casting vote rather than the chair, and also to extend term for people who've been there for over 10 years.
So, as you rightly said, things were negotiable. The only thing that seems to be not negotiable is the actual debt. So a couple of things I would like to see and I'd like to see in cost benefit analysis on where the debt negotiations going, cost benefit analysis on other options up to and including liquidation examination. What can you do to give choice? None of that was was made apparent.
And there has been chapter and verse in history where examiners should have helped organisations and companies not only fix financial issues, but get stronger and better. And we didn't see any discussion about that. And I'm just asking the questions. That's all I am.
So can you explain to people what an examiner ship might have looked like? Our successful examiner ship in this instance might have looked like because I guess certainly from listening to the unions, they were very concerned about the potential for job losses and gains.
Last night said the only show in town was the debt and the government deal, that he picked up the phone to other potential lenders and couldn't even get a meeting. Yeah, that's, you know, and again, I'm not going. I wasn't in any of those conversations, so I don't know. All I'm saying is there are other options. And he didn't talk about exonerative. And I would examine it. And I feel for all the employees you have to remember as well, over 200 people working at the FBI and they do a fantastic job and they've done an extremely fantastic job in the during the teeth of all of this, when all of this is going on over their heads.
And yet they've got to get on and do today job. So hats off to every single individual employee wanting to put an examiner is ship is you get the protection of the courts, No. One. So until all the details of the business is looked at and a plan is brought out, you just don't start laying people off and you restructure the organization to what it should be and what it can be in the future, including negotiating with all the creditors and setting out a new plan to work within its means.
Currently, the FBI, if it's to meet its debt repayments, it's going to be living a little bit beyond its means. It's not going to have an awful lot of free cash available to put into Irish football and develop the facilities that are badly required.
Shouldn't they pay their debts, though? It's not the right thing to do for any organization as particularly a sports organization. Of course he should, but also anyone who provides credit needs to make sure that before they give the credit the means of repayment. So, you know, there's all sorts of negotiations need to be taken on and looked into. And all I was looking for was what were the options, what happens, asking just simple questions that I felt was required to be asked and still haven't heard answered.
Do you think it was realistic to expect that Bank of Ireland would offer a writedown, given that ultimately UEFA and FIFA have loads of money and there's whatever the tenancy agreement is on the eve? At some point there is a value to that, although it's very difficult to crystallize exactly what that might be and that the government were unlikely on their watch to allow the FBI to to go into liquidation. Certainly maybe they might have had some appetite for examination, but I'm not sure about that in the middle of the crisis, that ultimately Bank of Ireland had a very strong position going, we're happy to refinance, but you're going to have to pay your debts.
You know, I can't answer a negotiated where Bank of Ireland are well capable of doing that, seem to have done a very good job in this case. But I think questions have to be asked if Bank of Ireland, some senior personnel are suggesting to people to head up the organisation they're going to have to negotiate with. That's all my question. But I do question the fact that there was no negotiation of the debts, none whatsoever. I actually think the FBI had a strong hand as well.
What is the market for a parcher in a national stadium? So if the bank were going to call in the loan, they were sitting on a property that they had a part of. That's not a very strong hand. So I'll sit down and negotiate with anyone and put all the cards on the table and drive a hard bargain as possible.
So is that sorry that ultimately your contention here is that you don't feel like the FBI got a good deal?
Is that because, you know, ultimately, if I because I haven't seen the details enough and I have asked for the Finance Committee should be doing as is overseeing these things and seen all the papers and was all I'm doing is asking the questions. And I would like to see what the options were. I'd like to see in in any sort of business, whether it's big or small, you should do a cost benefit analysis on the various decisions that are going to affect the ongoing future of the business.
And and we just didn't see it, that's all.
Look, again, Gary Owens isn't here, right? But he did say that's the only show in town we were two weeks from going bust. We had to do a deal. No one was offering his finance. Like, if you if you go back to that point in time, the fire was a toxic brand. It's a little less toxic now. But still, it's very hard to see what sponsors come on board as the the main sponsors for for the next while it's not in a very good position.
The cost benefit analysis might not have resulted in a hugely different and I don't know that they didn't do on your side saying you haven't seen it, and that's fair enough. And was there whether multiple options at that point, do you think? Well, I don't know, I wasn't in that place where because I wasn't in the driver's seat having those conversations, I'll I'll take Gary's word for us that if there's no other no other game in town. But you know that all I'm saying is that it was, you know, those questions that I was asking as a finance committee member.
And I wanted to ask within the Finance Committee. So we weren't you know, these things could be answered there and then and dealt with. But because they elected not to proceed with convening the Finance Committee, I felt it was my fiduciary duty on behalf of the people who elected me, which were the council members, to ask simple questions. And I also decided that unlike some other colleagues on other committees who got exasperated and just left and resigned in committees, I just feel that if I'm going to be taken off of the committee, then that's up to the council to remove me.
And until I'm removed, I'll have to continue asking questions that I was elected to do.
So you're going to say you're going to stay the course. And that's good to hear because it feels like these questions are absolutely necessary. Is it possible that the organization, as it's constituted now can appoint a finance committee and begin to function properly? Or is this current board and the chairman and the CEO? Do you feel like there's no recovery from the position that they put themselves in as far as you're concerned? You know, I've called for the resignation of the independent members of the board, with the exception of Rubber Ross, who joined the late, because I feel the oversight in this matter is questionable and I think the above anything else needs to have a squeaky clean corporate governance.
End of story. Full stop. And if it's going to be the brand is going to be reborn. If it's going to achieve the heady heights of Battalion Ninety and all of that good stuff that we should be doing. You know, you've got the Irish girls, ladies and national teams starting to now achieve the heights of stratospheric performance and all our Ondrej teams and hopefully now Stephen Kenny's new broche will do the same. The football side of it is thankfully going really well.
We need to get our house in order off the pitch. And I was trying to make sure that it was starting from a squeaky clean start with all full transparency. And I believe I'm a full believer in clear transparency, its ultimate power. And if things aren't transparent, questions get asked.
Can I ask why the difference between the independent directors and the elected football directors? Why do you exempt the elected football directors from your call for resignation? Because my feeling is that they, the independent victors number one duty will be to ask the questions independent of all the people who have been involved in football for many years. And that's I would have thought that's their job. They're there to put on the board to oversee the football side, to make sure everything has been done correctly and frankly.
And corporate governance for me is is the foundation.
But once you're on the board, you're on the board.
You're not on the board of the specific role unless you're actually appointed on that and to a specific committee. So, for example, if an independent member of the board gets appointed the chair of your finance committee, then they have responsibility to report back to the board. But when they're in the boardroom, once the meeting starts, everybody is equal. Yeah, a lot, but I think the independent people are being brought in so that they're there to question what's going on, and that's why everybody wanted to see a board.
And I applaud the fact that is a new board and there is independent members questioning their appointment if they're not actually doing the basic details of corporate governance, maybe they were inside the boardroom. But you're not you're not seeing it outside.
OK, do you have confidence in the independent chair now? But it is a question over this appointment and, you know, I've you know, all I can do is ask the questions and it's up to the independent chair to answer them and, you know, maybe answer them.
Last night, the first as far as he's concerned. And in fairness to him, he says that what happened was Amra approached him and he found one of the people who talk to him up to see what crack was before he got the gig and then he takes the gig. So he, as far as he's concerned, has answered that. I suppose it's a question for you as somebody who's steeped in football in Ireland, a chair of a League of Ireland club, do you have confidence in the independent chair at the moment?
I'm going to reserve my position on that and see how things play out, and I still think there's questions to be answered in the relationship between the main creditor. And I'd like to see the full resolution and answers on that. We're living in a different world in that scenario. That doesn't take lightly simple questions on where there may be a conflict of interest. And until there's absolute proof positive, there isn't know. You have to ask the question. Simple as.
OK, so if there was proof positive that there wasn't a conflict of interest, that would be the point where you would say, I have confidence in what would give you what would in terms of preserving your position, what would force you to say you don't have confidence? Well, if if I feel that there was something untoward and I have not been done, but at the moment I believe that the ignoring of the convening of two of the key committees for me, I have questioned.
That's why I wrote to you in the first place and question things, because it seems to be the only way to get an answer is you have to send a letter and then when you send a letter and ask for it to be copy to every member of the board, suddenly it's in the press before half a million readers. So that seems to be the way to get any answers. And it's unfortunate, but that's not the way it should be done if the committees were convened and we could all ask questions in the form that they should be doing.
So last week's new era launch, you're not convinced that we've we've begun a new era just yet. Look, it's teething problems, I hope. I do hope and wish everybody well in trying to drive on, but it's if there's a cloud and it has to be blown away, you know, I would consider myself and getting all that done correctly and doing first because the FBI can't live under any cloud. The FBI needs to be reborn and get back to what it's, you know, there to do next year.
It's a hundred years old and would be great to get into that year with the organization in fine fettle, with a great foundation in every part of us, unquestionably in great hands, Larry, vice chairman of Kantele and a member of the as yet constituted Finance Committee.
Thanks very much for joining us this morning and giving us your reaction to yesterday's vote OTB.
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