John Delaney yesterday declined to track back and discuss his recent decision to step down from the executive of the Olympic Council of Ireland, opting instead to look ahead to more positive times when Dublin will host four games at Euro 2020.
Tipped last summer by Pat Hickey as a future president of the OCI, Delaney relinquished his role as vice-president late last month on the back of a turbulent period for the body which saw Hickey arrested whilst at the Games in Brazil on charges relating to the sale of Olympic tickets.
“I’ve made it very clear about the OCI,” said the FAI chief executive at the launch of the branding for Dublin’s games at the European Championship in four years time. “I’ve said everything I’m going to say publicly about the OCI. There are a lot of legal matters as you know so I want to leave it at that.”
Delaney didn’t attend the Olympic Games in Brazil but he was in London four years ago when talk of ‘legacy’ was very much part of the feelgood factor that made that occasion such a success. Recent evidence, of course, suggests that any legacy has been a myth.
Studies show that there are fewer children active and competing in sports in the UK now than was the case prior to 2012 but Ireland’s success in being chosen as one of the 13 cities to play host to the Euros in 2020 was built on similar long-term ambitions.
So it was that yesterday’s unveiling of the Dublin logo for 2020 was accompanied by news that Robbie Keane will be spearheading a street and community football legacy programme with the aim of persuading more boys and girls to play the game in their communities.
A refurbished Dalymount Park will make for a more concrete legacy, of course.
The ground’s future was secured with its purchase by Dublin City Council (DCC) but Delaney has explained that much still needs to be done if the stadium is to be ready for use by Bohemians and Shelbourne, as envisaged, by the time the Euro extravaganza lands on these shores.
“There is now a grouping set up between DCC, the clubs and the FAI to look at what sort of feasibility plans could be done in terms of an 8,000-10,000-seater stadium. There are issues that have to be resolved with the shopping centre - in a positive way I would have thought …
“There is also a budget line that Paschal Donohoe put in that Dalymount will be supported. There is no figure put on that. So that sort of detail has to be worked on in the next 12 months.”
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