FAI to confirm top brass exits

FAI to confirm top brass exits
John Delaney.

The embattled Football Association of Ireland will today attempt to start mending fences with the Government by confirming a glut of exits, including John Delaney’s.

Their former chief executive, redeployed to the new post of vice-president three weeks ago, has come under increasing pressure to quit following his tight-lipped display at the Oireachtas committee for sport, transport and tourism last Wednesday.

Sport Ireland has no intention of restoring FAI funding amid the current crisis and Minister Shane Ross yesterday confirmed that all state aid to Irish football, including club grants, is in jeopardy. Those projects include the Dalymount Park redevelopment and the Munster centre of excellence in Glanmire.

“The FAI haven’t answered the questions and they still must be answered,” he said.

“They will not get our money if they are not in good standing in terms of corporate governance.

“All of the FAI board have very serious questions to answer and I was deeply concerned about their performance before on Oireachtas committee last week.”

Deep in firefighting mode, the FAI last night said it would be adding independent members onto their two-person governance committee. It is understood they will also appoint one independent delegate to the subcommittee from the board dealing with Mazars on their corporate governance review.

In a statement, it promised to implement all recommendations to ensure “those who play football don’t suffer by the actions of the FAI”.

President Donal Conway was forced to act on Friday night by summoning Delaney for exit talks.

Donal Conway
Donal Conway

John O’Regan, a Delaney loyalist in the Kerry league, claims he was told first-hand of Delaney’s offer to resign.

That exit, involving Delaney leaving the FAI payroll after nearly 15 years, is set to be rubber-stamped at a meeting of the 10-person board today.

Although that would end his involvement with the FAI, clarity is still required around his duties as the FAI’s representative on the Uefa executive committee — his current term takes him until 2021.

Today’s summit will also serve as a last lunch for Eddie Murray and Michael Cody, with both expected to follow Delaney out the door.

Each of the 79-year-olds are considered part of Delaney’s inner sanctum, their spells on the board stretching back 15 years.

Murray didn’t fare much better than Delaney in the Dáil, initially stating the association had one bank account. An hour later, he corrected the record by confirming there were, in fact, 24 bank accounts.

Cody wasn’t part of the delegation at Government Buildings yet, as honorary secretary, is technically the highest-ranking elected officer in the FAI.

The Cork native is a trusted confidante of Delaney, known as his conciliare for his fountain of knowledge around rules and regulations.

Still, he’s been hurtled into the news over the past five days for less flattering reasons, specifically his awareness of the €100,000 loan Delaney said he supplied to his employers in 2017 to overcome cashflow difficulties.

Former president Tony Fitzgerald is the only other member of the 10-person board, apart from Cody, who knew of the transaction, until media queries from The Sunday Times forced Delaney into his belated disclosure to the entire complement.

The board is understood to be far from impressed with being kept in dark, compounded by a statement on March 18 claiming they were kept informed of the deal at the time.

A subsequent statement last week from Conway revising that position suggested all was not well around the boardroom table. The Players Football Association of Ireland (PFAI) would later eloquently describe it as ‘something rotten in the state of the FAI’.

Despite sporadic outbursts of praise towards Delaney from clubs during this latest turmoil, support within his beloved football family is waning.

The Leinster Senior League, the FAI’s largest entity in adult football, are due to finalise a survey of their clubs which will overwhelmingly back a motion calling for the entire board to be sacked.

Former FAI board member John Byrne agrees drastic action is the only cure to the FAI’s ills.

“The entire board should go,” said the current CEO of the Community Games.

“A commission of three or four people to be brought in to run the FAI for a couple of years. Not just to oversee new corporate governance but also draft a new constitution to put behind us a regrettable period in Irish football.”

Also last night, the FAI said they would supply the Oireachtas with answers to outstanding issues by close of business today. Conway, Murray and new financial controller Alex O’Connell were unable to provide answers to basic questions.

They couldn’t give Jonathan O’Brien an answer on why the €100,000 payment was not included in the monthly accounts nor confirm to TD Noel Rock whether an active tax clearance certificate was in place for the last number of years.

The committee is due to meet Sport Ireland and Minister Ross about the FAI in public session tomorrow.

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