Delaney sidelined by Uefa and left without entitlement to tickets to Irish home games

Some more troubling revelations come to light, including details of how the FAI paid for Delaney’s 50th birthday party.

John Delaney, pictured arriving for an Oireachtas Committee meeting in April.
John Delaney, pictured arriving for an Oireachtas Committee meeting in April.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

FORMER CEO of the FAI John Delaney has not been granted complimentary tickets to Irish home internationals as part of his settlement with the Association. 

Former officials at the FAI are usually entitled to tickets after they leave the Association, but that tradition has not been extended to Delaney, who instead left with a severance package of €462,000. 

FAI Accounts published on Friday revealed that, in 2014, Delaney had entered into two contracts with the FAI of which some board members were unaware. The contracts, nonetheless approved by the board, entitled Delaney to a loyalty bonus of €1 million payable upon the expiration of his contract in 2021 along with a deferred pension payment of €2 million. 

These agreements left Delaney in a strong negotiating position with the FAI during his exit talks, and while present FAI board members were not happy at paying Delaney a six-figure exit package, they accepted it was a good deal given they could have been held liable for €2.4 million. 

“As regards John Delaney, needs must”, said Joseph O’Brien, elected to the board in July. “We need to be pragmatic. We were liable for €2.4 million, we ended up with €462,000. We weren’t over the moon about it, but that’s the way it has to be.”

The FAI accounts for 2018 were belatedly presented on Friday, along with the revised and restated accounts for 2017 and 2016.

Among the reasons the accounts had to be restated was the initial omission of the €3 million payments Delaney was entitled to. When those figures are added to Delaney’s salary along with expenses and tax payable on befefits-in-kind, Delaney’s remuneration soared to €994,688 in the 2018 accounts. 

The readjusted accounts also show the drastic redrawing of previously-trumpeted surpluses. The €2.278 million profit reported in 2016 was actually a surplus of just €66,000, while the €2.75 million surplus posted for 2017 should instead have been a loss of €2.9 million. 

The 2018 accounts laid bare the extent of the FAI’s financial plight, as debts have soared to €55 million.

The FAI are reliant on the drawdown of future funds from Uefa to stay afloat, and are negotitating a finance package with their bank to secure their future as a going concern. 

Executive Lead Paul Cooke says the FAI are close to agreeing a finance package in the coming weeks, subject to the approval of FAI Council. The package forecasts that the FAI will be breaking even by 2023, and has been put together on the assumption state funding of €2.9 million will be reinstated.

darren-randolph-removes-tennis-balls-from-the-pitch-after-fans-protest-john-delaney Darren Randolph clears the pitch of tennis balls, thrown in protest during what what proved to be the final home international of John Delaney's active involvement with the FAI. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

He is also confident the FAI retain the support of Uefa, and said that “we have had no indication from Uefa that they will turn off the tap.” 

Delaney’s payment is final and he is no longer involved with the FAI. While Delaney remains a member of the Uefa Executive Committee and entitled to a salary of around €160,000, the FAI say he has effectively been sidelined by the European governing body. 

“My understanding is Uefa no longer assign him any duties”, said outgoing FAI president Donal Conway. When asked whether the FAI would recommend that Uefa avoid giving Delaney any future roles, Conway replied that had not been discussed at board level. 

“I think Uefa have followed very closely what has happened here, and I think Uefa will watch very closely what happens will happen in here in the next year or two. I would expect he won’t [have any future duties with Uefa.]

Without holding a role with the FAI, Delaney will be ineligible to run for re-election to the committee in 2021. 

The accounts also lay bare some of the bizarre practices that took hold at the Association in recent years amid cash flow trouble. 

For example, the FAI must now refund SportsDirect €6.5 million over the course of five years, having initially classed their full sponsorship as income received. When SportsDirect exercised a right to cancel the deal, this money became refundable and the accounts included income that the FAI had not actually received. 

Further to that, Delaney was found to have donated €50,000 to the FAI in 2018 to keep the show on the road, as part of an overall fundraising drive that brought €650,000 in donations. Unlike the €100,000 loan of 2017, reported by the Sunday Times in March and the trigger for the months-long chaos that has engulfed the FAI, this was not to be refunded and was an unconditional donation. 

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Elsewhere, Conway confirmed that the FAI paid for Delaney’s 50th birthday party in Mount Juliet in October 2017, subject to Delaney making a significant contribution to the costs. 

The Sunday Times reported last week that the event totalled €69,000, with Delaney contributing €50,000 to the cost. 

“I was at the birthday party”, said Conway. “I understood the FAI were paying for the party. None of the suppliers were paid until John paid a significant sum of money to the birthday party. Around that time, we had Uefa here, the president and other key people. There was a football element to the party.” 

Delaney paid his share of the cost to the FAI, and the Association footed the bill in total once that money was in their coffers.

At the end of a lengthy press conference, Cooke was asked to assess Delaney’s legacy at the FAI. 

“That’s a very good question. I’m not sure what his legacy is. I’m looking here today, and it’s a very dark day. One would be moving here to [Sports Campus in] Abbottstown. We were the first Association to come here. That would be one key one, I would say.” 

He was then asked if Delaney was good for Irish football. 

“I think the figures today speak for themselves.” 

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Gavin Cooney

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