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13 things we learned from John Delaney's 'Game On' interview

The FAI CEO discussed Roy Keane and the state of the League of Ireland among other issues.

Updated at 18.00

1. He’s an ardent fan of the Kilkenny hurlers

Henry Shefflin celebrates with The Liam McCarthy Cup Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Delaney was “born in Waterford but very much associated with Ferrybank”. He also admits to regularly wearing a Kilkenny jersey despite growing up in rival county Tipperary.

2. It took Roy Keane and John Delaney little time to resolve their differences

He also says he was optimistic about Martin O’Neill agreeing to become Ireland manager, because they shared a taxi after meeting up to discuss the role.

3. He admits the current Irish team are ‘no world beaters’

Martin O'Neill Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

He concedes the team is inferior to the one in the Charlton era. However, he feels that “when we brought Martin and Roy in, there was a reception that hadn’t been there since the Charlton era”.

4. He thinks the FAI can be debt-free by 2020

“We can be debt-free by 2020. The naming rights are back up for resale. The corporate boxes are up for resale. The tickets are up for resale. There’s money we get from UEFA every three years. If we qualify for major Championships, there’s a serious amount of money that can be made. England, Scotland, Poland, Germany at home… Next year’s a very big year for the FAI.”

5. The FAI will be using the Academy by ‘March or April’

FAI Offices at the National Sports Campus 5/12/2007 Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

He also expects the academy’s pitches to be finished by December.

6. He feels the FAI have improved immeasurably over the years

“The FAI was an easy hit to have a lash at publicly, but there’s more of a growing respect for what we do. More kids play soccer in this country than any other sport and there’s huge participation programmes… We do a lot more right and less wrong than in the past.”

7. He believes the Premier League detracts from the League of Ireland

Soccer - Barclays Premier League End of Season Review Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

“Whether we like it or not, we’re on the shoulder of one of the biggest leagues in the world, the Premier League. Our best players will always go across there. The League of Ireland is a great breeding ground for some of those players, but the Premier League swallows up the sponsorship and the attention of the Irish public.

“That doesn’t mean we have don’t have a vibrant game in this country and that we’re unable to produce good players and that we don’t have the right structures. This National Development Plan will be about kids having more touches, more flexibility, more fun. Enjoying the game, not being afraid to make a mistake, learning to love the ball and not kicking it long… Bringing in Ruud Dokter, we’ll see a step change when we launch this National Development Plan in November, which hopefully will produce better players on a more consistent basis.”

8. He denies claims that the League of Ireland is ‘dying’

Delaney says the FAI have brought a better financial structure to clubs, but believes it to be a ”difficult sell on the back of the Premier League”. He also says the organisation are doing things for all the clubs individually and bringing a stability to the league, which is “a lot better than where it was in the past”.

9. RTÉ offered the FAI €4million in negotiations not to cover the League of Ireland

Keith Fahey and Ronan Finn Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“I said ‘no,’ we want a highlights show every week and we want live football, and that has brought an attention to the game that wasn’t there in the past.”

10. He thinks senior clubs “have to get closer” to the schoolboy clubs and the junior clubs

“The senior clubs were accused of taking players and not compensating schoolboy and junior clubs [causing a division]… If I was back at Waterford tomorrow, I’d be getting the junior and the schoolboy clubs behind the senior team, because if all the clubs who are playing football were following their local Airtricity team, then the attendances would be a lot higher.”

11. He thinks there are “two or three people” in the media out to get him

FAI CEO John Delaney 26/7/2014 Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

“I’m quite pro the media. But there are two or three people who would run with a certain agenda. All they want to do is write about the negatives, and that’s well known. We all know who they are.”

12. He doesn’t like discussing his salary

“I was hoping we could discuss more positive things rather than back to the same old question,” he told interviewer Hugh Cahill.

13. He likes to be close to the Irish fans to understand their issues

Martin OÕNeill and John Delaney with fan Davy Keogh Source: James Crombie/INPHO

When asked about his infamous sing-songs with Irish supporters, Delaney said he’s a “supporter himself” who “enjoys” hearing the stories of the fans.

Listen to the interview in full here>

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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