Delaney defends ticket scheme against media ‘agenda’

JOHN DELANEY has dismissed criticism of the FAI’s sales of premium tickets for the Aviva Stadium and insisted that the association is “doing really well in a difficult environment.”

The FAI chief executive has reiterated that only 3,700 of the 10,000 Vantage Club tickets are still available for sale and that the scheme has therefore achieved its 60% break even point. Recent media reports painted a different picture, however, suggesting that a more accurate figure for sales was closer to 4,000, including an unspecified number sold at discount as well as existing deals carried over from the old Lansdowne Road 10-year scheme. It has also been claimed that some 2,000 of the 6,000-plus premium seats allocated are tied into sponsorship agreements.

Asked by journalists yesterday if he could say how many tickets had been sold, Delaney replied: “I’m not going to go into that with you. I’ve been through this a hundred times and I’m not going to go into that anymore. No business would be forensically examined to the extent of saying that these are the ones that we’ve sold, this is the cash we’ve collected. I keep saying to you that our banks are happy and our grassroots members are happy. There are 3,700 tickets available for the association to sell and that’s what matters to the association.”

The CEO also declined to quantify the number of tickets tied in to sponsorship deals.

“I’m not going to go into the different sponsors,” he said. “We all know that sponsors take a number of tickets, the GAA do it, the IRFU do it, the FAI do it, every sporting body does it. When the FAI do it sometimes – and we have a decent media in most cases – but I’ve said it many times that one or two have an agenda in my opinion. And you can’t get yourselves off that agenda for whatever reasons. My role in the FAI is to develop the game along with my board. You can keep asking these questions for the next 10 years for all I or the association cares because we’re doing our stuff.”

Delaney used the opportunity to flag another major sponsorship deal in the offing for the association.

“It will be a seven figure, minimum, cash figure every year to the association,” he said of the deal which is expected to be announced in the next couple of weeks. “It will probably be a 10-year deal as well so it will be a deal that guarantees the FAI at least €10 million in cash over 10 years plus other options as well.”

Delaney also said that he expects there to be close to a capacity attendance in the Aviva for Friday week’s big European Championship qualifier against Russia. The FAI boss was speaking in the stadium yesterday at the launch of a new partnership between Shared Access, a leading US telecoms infrastructure provider, and the FAI, which will see Shared Access provide funding for floodlights to local clubs in return for the ability to erect telecoms structures.

In a deal facilitated by the FAI, Shared Access will pay for and erect floodlights for local football clubs.

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