The Board of Directors of the IABA were disappointed to learn of the selective leaking to the media of a letter from IABA President Pat Ryan to Chairman Joe Christle dated 6th June but not received by the Chairman until June 7th.

The Board have been frustrated that the significant challenges the IABA has faced in its efforts to bring the governance of the organisation into line with best practice for modern day sporting organisations has been played out in the media. We have always been aware that some of the proposed changes may prove difficult to accept for people within the sport, as they have for other organisations making similar changes.

We are particularly conscious and want to acknowledge the positive impact of the many volunteers within the IABA who have given significant time and commitment to the sport which, we are all passionate about and without whom boxing could simply not be delivered.

In light however of the selective leaking of that letter we do now feel obliged to address some of the issues contained therein. It is not our intention to make any further comment until after the next meeting of the Board of Directors to be held June 14th.

  1. Rule Book

It is recognised by the Board and the Central Council that the current Rule Book is not fit for purpose for a modern sporting organisation with aspirations to deliver not only international success but also ensure the future development of Irish boxing.

The Board of Directors and the Central Council were not however able to agree on the contents of a new Rule Book. At a meeting of the Board, at which the President was present in November 2016, it was agreed unanimously to appoint an independent expert, Sarah O’Shea to draft a Rule Book. This decision was unanimously reaffirmed at a meeting of the Board in January 2017 at which the President was also in attendance.

The draft prepared by Sarah O’Shea has been finished since the middle of March. Despite, a number of requests to meet with members of Central Council on the new Rule Book have not made themselves available to meet.

It had been the intention of the Board of Directors once a draft was agreed with Central Council representatives to hold explanatory meetings with the wider IABA membership to outline the proposed changes and why they were considered necessary. This would have been an integral part of similar processes adopted by other sporting organisations when making similar changes.

However, in light of the deadline imposed by Sport Ireland as a key stakeholder and principal funder the Board feel they have no choice given their legal duty to protect the viability of the organisation to propose a Rule Book to give effect to changes to include the Rio recommendations for adoption at a meeting to be held on June 14th next.

It is our intention if the Rule Book is adopted to then hold the explanatory workshops around the country on these and further changes that are likely to be required in order to bring the IABA governance fully into line with best practice of good governance in sport.

The IABA CEO, Fergal Carruth has played a key role in ensuring that a draft Rule Book has been prepared and to suggest that he has sought to inhibit the process in any way is simply untrue.

Changes will also be required to the Memorandum & Articles of Association of the IABA. These are also being reviewed by Sarah O’Shea and will need to be considered in the light of any new Rule Book and Company Law requirements.

  1. Team Selection

One of the main areas of contention has been the method for selecting international teams. Sport Ireland and the Minister have both indicated their strong belief that this should be within the remit of the High Performance Director albeit with the support of a High Performance Advisory Group.

This was also one of the recommendations of the review into boxing at the Rio Olympic Games conducted by independent expert Brian McNiece of Kotinos Partners which, the Board resolved to implement in full and was incorporated into our strategic plan published in December. The IABA President was present and indeed, spoke at the launch of that plan and specifically spoke in support of both the appointment of a High Performance Director and the Advisory Group.

The President informed the Company Secretary in January that he would bring the Rio Review to Central Council and revert as soon as possible. No update has yet to be received.

The Rio Review, including that of the performance of boxing, was published by Sport Ireland in April 2017 and has since been publicly available.

In relation to the selection of the Irish Team for the European Championships High Performance Director, Bernard Dunne did outline that he regarded the reigning National Champion Martin Keenan as his number one Super Heavyweight but recommended that a box off be held to determine the final selection.

  1. Alleged Meeting of the Board of Directors on March 27th

Company Law requires reasonable notice of any meeting of the Board of Directors to be given to all Directors entitled to attend. No notice of the alleged meeting on March 27th was given to other Directors with the company secretary having specifically notified the other Directors in writing that a Board meeting would not be taking place. It is our view which is supported by legal advice that this meeting was therefore not properly convened.

At no time in advance of that meeting did any of the individuals who attended convey to the Company Secretary that there was still an issue surrounding the office of Chairman. Legal advice on the term of office of the Chairman had been received from the IABA solicitors Daly Galvin in March 2017 and circulated to the Board resolving the issue.

  1. Tenure of the Chairman

Article 60 of the IABA Memorandum & Articles of Association (the “M&A”) provides that the Chairman shall hold office for a period of 3 years with a maximum period of 6 years. Joe Christle was appointed Chairman in August 2014 and remains the Chairman of the IABA. The President acknowledged that Joe Christle is the Chairman at a meeting with Sport Ireland and the Minister for Sport on Wednesday 31st May.

The provisions of the Rule Book regarding terms of office for individuals on Central Council are an entirely separate matter and have nothing to do with terms of office for the Directors of the Company which are governed by the M&A. Indeed, legal advice indicates that if there were/was ever a conflict between the two it is the M&A that takes precedence.

  1. Funding

The Board of Directors recognise that boxing simply could not survive without the incredible work of our many volunteers. There is also no doubt that the international success our sport has enjoyed over many years is attributable in no small way to the fantastic work of so many at a grassroots level in our 379 clubs right around the country.

However, to say that our Provinces, County Boards and clubs do not benefit from Sport Ireland funding is incorrect. The core funding received from Sport Ireland does assist in the funding of our administrative staff but the presence of a full time executive is now standard if not essential for national sporting organisations many of which the IABA looks to benchmark itself against.

Indeed, it is likely that the levels of funding would be significantly lower if the IABA did not have a full time executive as a review of the Sport Ireland annual grant allocation to National Governing Bodies of Sport demonstrates. This funding also goes someway to supporting the day to day management of the National Boxing Stadium that provides another valuable source of income for the association.

Our clubs benefit from the support and assistance of the staff in particular the development officers who work closely with the clubs, the work done with Coaching Ireland around coaching qualifications, the support to members around the Code of Ethics on the participation of Children in Sport, capital grant applications not to mention the on-going liaison with Sport Ireland and Sport Northern Ireland. In addition, it is simply not realistic to think that a High Performance Programme can deliver success on the international stage without a dedicated and specialised team and support personnel given the demands and competitive nature of elite sport.

Our clubs have also received significant capital investment from Government not to mention the €1 million in equipment grants in 2010 and a further €150,000 in 2014 that has greatly benefited many clubs. Clubs have also received OSCAR grants and other funding from Local Sports Partnerships and City Councils. There is no doubt that all of these sources of funding will be put in jeopardy unless the IABA is regarded as complying with the best practice of good governance in sport.

The reality is that 85% of our annual income is derived at present through Government funding and therefore, any withdrawal of these funding streams does present a real threat to the viability of the sport. Maintaining good relationships with Government at both national and local levels is in the best interests of the IABA, its Central Council, Provincial Councils, County Board, Clubs and the sport of boxing.

  1. Central Council

The Board of Directors are pleased that the Central Council will now meet on Saturday 10th June. We can confirm that a delegation from Central Council have been invited to attend the Board Meeting on June 14th and we very much hope that they will attend.