FAI chief executive John Delaney is to remain in his post for a further five years.
The decision was announced yesterday following a regular meeting of the association’s ten-man board of management at which the Waterford native, who took over the role in late 2004, was invited to extend his contract until 2015.
Welcoming Delaney’s acceptance of the offer, FAI president David Blood said: “John has presided over the development and growth of all strands of the game and we are delighted to announce that he will continue as chief executive of the Football Association of Ireland for a further five-year term.
“John has been instrumental in modernising the association and has a track record of achievement including the establishment of a nationwide network of co-funded community based football development officers, the transformation of relations with football’s grassroots, the trebling of the Association’s commercial portfolio, the merger with the Airtricity League and the development of the new Aviva Stadium in partnership with the IRFU.”
While Delaney has been widely regarded as a progressive force in lifting the FAI out of the turmoil which engulfed it post-Saipan, his tenure as chief executive has not been without controversy.
Undoubtedly the biggest blot on his record was his highly visible role in the appointment of Steve Staunton (with the late Bobby Robson) as a replacement for Brian Kerr as Ireland manager. It was a gamble which backfired disastrously and which was only redeemed when, having this time taken a back seat in the selection process, Delaney was able to announce the FAI’s considerable coup in landing Giovanni Trapattoni as the new boss of the national team.
Under his watch, the FAI’s merger with the League of Ireland also saw the domestic game subject to recurring upheavals, culminating in last season’s loss of both Cork City and Derry City from the top-flight.
This season, however, stability appears to have been restored although, even with leaner budgets employed, some clubs are still finding it difficult to make ends meet.
And while the delivery of the Aviva Stadium may come to be regarded as his single greatest achievement as chief executive, questions persist about the financial burden it places on the FAI and, in particular, their pricing of premium seats at a time when the country was on the brink of recession.
Amid continued speculation about sluggish sales, the association is keeping the figures close to its chest. But Delaney continues to insist that, rather than being a drain on the FAI’s finances, the stadium will prove a valuable source of revenue in the long term.
Given that he has been previously linked with a possible move to UEFA, the news of Delaney extending his tenure will be well received within the association.
Blood added: “I know that I speak for all of the elected members of the board of management when I say John is the right man to continue delivering growth and success for Irish football.”
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