SBC News FAI: €863m sports betting levy plan should go ahead

FAI: €863m sports betting levy plan should go ahead

Football Association of Ireland (FAI) Chair Roy Barrett and CEO Jonathan Hill have defended the questioning of betting tax funding, the Irish Independent has reported

The pair asserted in a recent press conference that the €863m infrastructure plan ‘should not be hindered’ by concerns of the group’s troubled recent history, outlined.

In detail, the CEO has lauded the levy – which will require more than €500m from the government – as a strong example of the Irish government delivering a stimulus to a sport.

Meanwhile Barrett has opted for an increase from 2% to 3% so ‘the wealth can be spread’. This would mean that other sports, as well as football, could benefit from an increased yield from betting levies.

Regarding the 15-year-vision for infrastructure, Hill said: “What happened prior to 2019 will never happen again. This is a new debate and conversation we’re going to have with the government.”

According to the source, the association has outlined that its debt is now down from €63m to €44m. 

“We have started discussions already with the Department of Sport and Sport Ireland,”  he continued. “They have been very positive. They are supportive of any proposal that brings the wider debate of funding sport to the table.”

Moreover, Barrett added that we must not attest to what happened under the last management infrastructure.

“At the time, I absolutely believe it was the right thing for government to step in and stabilise the organisation,” he said. 

“They placed a lot of trust in the management and the board to do that and help the game grow against the backdrop where they absolutely recognised the relative importance of football in this country and what it could be.

“But if you look over the last 20 years and however things were managed and whatever the perceptions were, the reality is as a sport and a leading sport, football was grossly underinvested in compared to the other main sports.”

Furthermore, the Chair discussed how this is a plan to give people the necessary facilities for them against the backdrop for a generation where ‘there hasn’t been sufficient investment in football compared to any other leading sport’. 

“Any government funding for anything, particularly sport, is going to be emotional,” Barrett added. “People will have an emotive view, whichever sport they are from. 

“What we have sought to do over the last 18 months is to take the emotion out of it and say, ‘the facilities are poor’. It makes sense in any economy, when you have surpluses like that, to spend a chunk of it on improving infrastructure.”

Finally, when asked about smaller bookmakers objecting to a tax rise due to it putting their businesses in jeopardy, Barrett assessed: “That has been a constant refrain every time there has been a change in the betting levy.

“I see Horse Racing Ireland has called for an increase in the levy as well. I don’t believe that that issue should dwarf the significant benefit that can accrue for society more generally if increased yields from gambling are put to proper use, and good use, which in this context is more facilities for more sports, which would benefit more people.”

Ireland is currently in the process of implementing new regulatory changes after legislation was passed last year. This has included the establishment of the Gambling Regulatory Authority (GRA) and a ‘social impact fund’, but the terms of a levy to support sports have not been determined.

SBC News FAI: €863m sports betting levy plan should go ahead

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