Ex-FAI chief executive John Delaney is still on the soccer body’s payroll and could technically return to a senior role, despite the entire FAI board agreeing to step down by July.
Sport Ireland confirmed Mr Delaney will continue to be paid by the FAI while on voluntary “gardening leave”, after the shock news all other senior officials will leave within three months.
In a dramatic day in the deepening crisis:
However, despite the breakthrough moment in reforming the soccer body, more questions have been raised over the exact details.
During a five-hour meeting with the Oireachtas sports committee, Sport Ireland chief executive John Treacy told Fine Gael TD Noel Rock that while Mr Delaney has chosen to “voluntarily step aside”, he is still on the FAI’s payroll, saying: “I believe he is still on the payroll while this [FAI-launched] investigation by Mazars is going on.”
In a later exchange with Sinn Féin TD Imelda Munster, Sport Ireland chairman Kieran Mulvey said the FAI board mass resignations may not include Mr Delaney, as he is on “gardening leave” during the Mazars review, meaning he could technically return if cleared.
The ongoing questions —and further TD claims some board members may simply seek re-election at a July vote — has led to fresh demands for the FAI to clarify the situation, with Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O’Brien telling Sport Ireland:
We now have a situation where two board members are gone, eight have indicated they are going, and the individual at the centre of all the controversy is only stepping aside.
However, in response to Irish Examiner’s queries last night, an FAI spokesperson said the organisation is “not saying anything”.
The questions emerged after Mr Ross revealed in a bombshell statement to the Oireachtas sports committee that the entire FAI board will step down by July. In a statement kept under wraps until the meeting, Mr Ross said after demanding officials ensure “regime change” on Monday, FAI president Donal Conway wrote to him yesterday confirming the imminent resignations.
Mr Ross said the FAI’s response has been “shambolic” and that “root and branch” changes are needed, including ensuring that male and female players, supporters, and grassroots representatives are involved in any future board.
Stressing that the Government will withhold funding until there is proof of change, he said this is “the beginning of the end of the old FAI”.
Mr Ross’s comments came after the FAI’s auditor, Deloitte, told the Companies Registration Office the FAI’s accounts have not been properly kept, forcing the board’s hand on resignations.
They were followed by Sport Ireland announcing a “deep-dive” audit regardless of any reforms, with Mr Mulvey saying it will be “as forensic as it needs to be” as “I want no more surprises”.
Speaking in the Dáil, Mr Varadkar said the ODCE may launch its own FAI investigation after Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said “it doesn’t get any more serious” than this crisis.
In the committee, Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy said: “People who really love the sport will be embarrassed, angry, but probably not surprised, because we’ve known there is a problem for a very long time.”