KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- John Delaney, Irish member of the UEFA executive committee member, has resigned entirely from the Football Association of Ireland after being on gardening leave for months amid investigations into the body’s financial affairs.
Delaney, 51, was appointed FAI ceo in 2005 and won election to the governing body of European football in 2017.
Questions about Delaney’s status in Irish sport arose first in October 2016 when he resigned as a vice-president of the Olympic Council of Ireland in the wake of a ticketing scandal surrounding president Patrick Hickey. Delaney said then that he needed to focus on “ensuring the growth and development of football in Ireland.”
Trouble came closer to his FAI home last March when The Sunday Times revealed he had provided the FAI with a €100,000 loan in 2017. Delaney had sought in vain in court to prevent publication of the article.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar commented: “It does seem a bit unusual, a body of that size, given its operations and the funding it receives. I would have thought it would have banking facilities that would have provided for a loan.”
The FAI accounts for 2017 had shown a surplus of €2.8m on revenues of €49m with no mention of Delaney’s loan.
A week after the article appeared Delaney, who has said it was the only time he gave such a loan and that it was repaid in full, stepped down as ceo into a newly-created role of executive vice-president. Rea Walshe, promoted to the role of chief operation officer only a month earlier, became interim chief executive.
Delaney said: “This past fortnight has been very difficult for me on a personal and professional level . . . It is time now for a new start and I am really looking forward to serving Irish football as best I can as executive vice-president.”
The FAI defined his new role as responsibility for international matters including all FIFA and UEFA matters and FAI tournament bidding projects. This included the prospect of a joint bid with the four British home associations to host the centenary World Cup in 2030.
Further damage to his reputation emerged with a report in The Sunday Times that Delaney spent almost €40,000 on his work credit card in the space of six months shortly before he had to personally bail out the association.
Subsequently he was reported to have placed on “gardening leave or whatever it is called” in a statement by Sport Ireland chief executive John Treacy amid the launch of three inquiries into the FAI’s finances amid concern about possible breaches of company law as well as into expenses and payments to third parties.
That was not the end of the matter according to an FAI statement released late on Saturday night. This noted that Delaney had resigned with immediate effect following talks and that it would fulfil certain notice and pension obligations as agreed between the parties.
Irish Minister for Sport Shane Ross told broadcaster RTE that details of any severance package from the FAI should be made public before government funding could be restored.
He added: “It’s absurd after all the controversy that we shouldn’t know exactly what the pay-off is.”