John Delaney wishes Georgia was the only thing on his mind

John Delaney is still likely to be paid a six-figure salary in his newly created role as the FAI’s executive vice-president, but it’s “substantially less” than the €300,000-plus he received as chief executive, the Association pointed out yesterday.

Delaney, pressured by fresh claims yesterday that the FAI paid monthly rent on his accommodation for a number of years, will no longer be in charge of the day-to-day running of the FAI in the wake of an executive reshuffle, but his relationship with the new CEO will be crucial, and watched with interest.

Both, in strict governance terms, will be answerable to the FAI board, but one could easily interpret the new division of responsibilities as a domestic CEO operating parallel to an international CEO.

The FAI did its best Saturday night to detail the respective areas of responsibility: “The responsibilities of the new executive vice-president include all Fifa and Uefa matters including membership of the Uefa executive committee, all FAI tournament bidding projects, international relations and support, the John Giles Foundation, membership of the board of the Aviva Stadium, planning for the centenary of the FAI and the 50th anniversary of women’s football in Ireland in 2023, and a bid to host the Uefa Women’s Champions League final in Dublin. The new executive vice-president will also work on special projects as agreed by the board and the new chief executive and will be available to the CEO for assistance.”

The FAI begins the process of recruiting a new CEO today with interviews expected in early May ahead of an intended unveiling at the AGM in Trim in July.

“The new chief executive would assume responsibility for leading and managing the executive team at the FAI with appropriate executive support being provided to the executive vice-president to carry out the role. Both roles should be clearly defined and would report into the board.

“The new chief executive and the executive vice-president would need to work closely in a collaborative manner in line with the updated strategy established by the new chief executive and agreed by the board.”

The irony is that Delaney will now be exclusively focused on work at Uefa and Fifa level that he’s doing already, and has proved to be good at — enabling Ireland to consistently punch above its weight, administratively, on the international stage.

He has a few domestic flames to douse first though and how soon he is given latitude to advance Ireland’s cause abroad remains to be seen. At some point, he is sure to address the controversies, but there’s the small matter of a Euro 2020 qualifier against Georgia to be negotiated this week too.

“This past fortnight has been very difficult for me on a personal and professional level,” said Delaney, “and I would like to thank the board and my work colleagues across the FAI for their support. In recent days I have received many messages of support from the family of football, from many of the 2,000 clubs I have visited in my role as CEO and from the world of politics and sport which I am grateful for.”

FAI president Donal Conway said: “He has transformed how we operate as an Association.”

He added: “Governance is vitally important to the FAI. We appointed a governance committee in 2017 and have made a number of changes to our rules in compliance with the governance code.

“The board of the FAI is happy to meet with the department to discuss these changes and would also welcome the opportunity to update Sport Ireland and the Oireachtas committee on sport on our new senior management structure.”

The consultants’ report recommending these structural changes to the FAI executive was compiled by sports governance expert Jonathan Hall Associates and their principal, Jonathan Hall, who is a former director of governance and director of football services with the English FA.

Jonathan Hall Associates was engaged to review senior management structures and the role of CEO as the association plans for the launch of a new strategic report for the period 2020-24 and ahead of its centenary in 2021.

The report states: “The new role of executive vice-president would be a specific defined role with responsibility for a range of international matters and special projects on behalf of the FAI.

“It is envisaged that the current CEO (Delaney) would step into this new role. This would allow Irish football to continue to benefit from his extensive football experience and contacts across Europe and the rest of the world.”

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