LATEST: John Delaney to lead FAI delegation at Sport Committee meeting on finances

An invitation from the FAI to members of the Oireachtas Committee on Sport to attend a social occasion, days before the FAI was due to be grilled on its finances, has been described as “wholly inappropriate”.

LATEST: John Delaney to lead FAI delegation at Sport Committee meeting on finances

Latest: The FAI has offered to bring its meeting with the Joint Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport fromward to April 3 from April 10.

The Association also confirmed today that CEO John Delaney would lead the FAI delegation to the meeting.

Earlier:

An invitation from the FAI to members of the Oireachtas Committee on Sport to attend a social occasion, days before the FAI was due to be grilled on its finances, has been described as “wholly inappropriate”.

The committee is demanding answers from the FAI over its chief executive John Delaney’s claimed €100,000 loan to the sports body.

The alleged loan has been described as “very odd” and “most unusual” by leading politicians from across the political divide.

But it emerged yesterday that the FAI re-sent an invitation to an under-age team event in the Aviva Stadium on April 4, six days before Mr Delaney is due to appear.

Committee member and Fine Gael member Noel Rock told the Irish Examiner that it was ill-judged for the FAI to extend such an invitation and it would be wholly inappropriate for him to accept it.

TDs called for Mr Delaney to provide “urgent clarity” on the circumstances of his alleged bridging loan to his own organisation.

Since revelations emerged in The Sunday Times at the weekend, Mr Delaney’s explanation of the claimed bridging loan has attracted significant comment.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was asked about the loan at a press conference in Dublin and said the situation seemed unusual.

It does seem a bit unusual, a body of that size, given its operations and the funding it receives. I would have thought it has banking facilities that would have provided for a loan.

"Sport Ireland and the Oireachtas Committee will want to ask some questions about that,” he said, adding that questions about Mr Delaney’s position at the FAI were not for him to answer.

Labour leader and former public expenditure minister Brendan Howlin said there has to be a full explanation.

“I don’t know how it came about that the chief executive would be in a position to, if you like, bail out the organisation that he works for. It is a very odd set of circumstances. I listened to the FAI statement that it will respond to Sport Ireland in a very full way, but I am as intrigued as the rest of us as to what the explanation is.”

Fianna Fáil’s social protection spokesman Willie O’Dea said the alleged transaction was “most unusual”.

“From what I have read, what I can gather is that the CEO of the FAI gave them €100,000 by way of a bridging loan, which is the most unusual transaction, a most unusual thing to happen,” he said.

“If an organisation is looking for money, either they raise it themselves or they speak to a financial institution. It is most unusual to get a bridging loan from its CEO who is obviously not a banker or does not have a lending licence of any shape or nature.”

“We do need, before we start talking about what sort of action needs to be taken as regards to the FAI, we need more clarity. So I would urge the people involved, people who have been written to by Sport Ireland, to provide clarity to enable us take whatever action is appropriate,” he said.

Mr O’Dea and Fine Gael Senator John O’Mahony, who is a member of the Oireachtas Committee on Sport, led calls for Mr Delaney’s scheduled appearance on April 10 to be brought forward.

The FAI said it is currently undertaking a full review of its executive governance and senior management structures, to be completed by April.

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