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Hill leaving position as FAI chief executive

Jonathan Hill, the chief executive officer of the Football Association of Ireland, will leave his post at the end of the month.

He has been in charge of the football body since November 2020.

An interim CEO will be appointed by the FAI which will be followed by “a structured search for a full-time successor”, according to a statement issued this morning.

Hill was heavily criticised by members of the Public Accounts Committee in Leinster House in February following his explanation of a payment of €11,550 he received from the association in lieu of holidays not taken, which was against the FAI’s own staff rule book.

He repaid the money and another €8,000 benefit in kind he received for commuting expenses after an audit found his salary had breached the limit of a General Secretary of a government department, a stipulation agreed under the terms of a government bailout of the FAI in 2020.

Hill apologised and claimed that it was an “unintentional breach” of the bailout agreement.

Sport Ireland temporarily suspended funding to Irish football following the audit but that grant aid has since been restored.

Hill was the first permanent CEO appointed to the FAI following the governance issues which emerged during the John Delaney era.

He took over during the Covid-19 crisis and oversaw Ireland’s successful bid to co host the 2028 European championships along with England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Hill, along with FAI independent director Catherine Guy, attending the Public Accounts Committee in Leinster House on 22 February

He led the growth of the women’s game culminating in Ireland’s first appearance at a Women’s World Cup and promotion to League A of the Nations League.

He finally attracted a title sponsor to the men’s team after a long absence but the association is yet to appoint a manager for the men’s international side following Stephen Kenny’s departure in November.

Hill was formerly Group Commercial Director of the English FA and was seen as having a strong commercial and sponsorship background.

On his appointment he said he was looking forward to driving the development of football at every level within Ireland and at the time the president Gerry McAnaney said that his appointment would be a turning point for Irish football after the events of the last 18 months referring to the governance crisis and the government bailout of the association.

Hill said: “Since 2020, the FAI team and the wider football community have embraced what has been a radical transformation process for the association and I’m proud of what has been achieved. We have developed a new, dynamic senior leadership team, a clear strategic vision, a bold plan to address football’s wider infrastructure needs and a stable and growing financial platform for further and sustainable growth.

“A notable step forward was the 2021 Equal Pay agreement which has been a vital catalyst for the rapid rise of the women’s senior national team over this period, culminating in a historic first World Cup appearance in Australia in 2023.

“Our successful bids to host Euro 2028 and the UEFA Europa League final next month are testament to the progress delivered by the FAI staff and their incredible commitment and hard work. I firmly believe that the future is bright for Irish football.”

The independent chair of the FAI board, Tony Keohane, believes the organisation has benefited from Hill’s leadership despite the unplanned parting of ways: “Jonathan joined the association during a difficult time in the heart of the Covid-19 pandemic and helped the association navigate an extremely challenging period.

“On behalf of the board of the FAI, I want to thank Jonathan for his hard work and dedication over the past number of years and wish him well for the future.

“Not only did Jonathan guide the association and the game through an incredibly difficult pandemic period, but he led the transformation in the association and leaves us with a robust organisational structure, a vastly improved financial position and a blueprint for the future success of football in Ireland.

“We are grateful to have benefited from Jonathan’s experience, leadership, hard work and commitment and we wish him well in his future ventures.”

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