D-Day for FAI Board

Today looks like D-Day for John Delaney in terms of his future with the FAI.

Rumours over the weekend suggested he was ready to either step down or be relieved of his duties by the Board of the FAI who will meet today with that as one of the many important items on the agenda.

The spotlight of media interest has been intense, especially since Delaney’s decision to refrain from submitting to full questioning from last week’s Oireachtas Committee.

His reasons for doing so can be understood given some of the statements that had been made in advance and the ongoing investigation of the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement.

In the court of public opinion though it did not go down well, and that appears to have spread to the ‘football family’ who felt let down that he was not able to come out and mount a strong defence of what might or might not have happened.

Yesterday’s Sunday Times revelations of what it reports to be his use of an FAI Credit Card to pay for a variety of hotel stays, gifts, restaurant bills and more was also very damaging.

The detail of the venues and the brands reflects a life that is in a different place to the committee rooms of FAI clubs from Donegal to Wexford and Kiltimugh to Termonfeckin, and it is likely that more football people bought the paper yesterday than has ever been the case.

Their affection for Delaney has been based on his doing the right thing for them and their club on an individual basis. Of course, it was never his personal money that paid for the nets and the replacement of the dressing room door but his influence made it happen and that was of value itself.

Bills from Kurt Geiger and Cath Kidston, Thomas Pink and Tommy Hilfiger amounted collectively to less than €1,000 but in terms of the public opinion perspective, they could have been for millions.

Added to the continual questions over a high salary, the payment of additional rent allowances and against a background of cuts across the Association they all add up to a bigger mountain than Delaney has ever climbed before.

We don’t know the deliberation of the board, whether there will be a parting or how it will be presented but we should do within the coming days or maybe hours.

Delaney’s position on the Executive Committee of UEFA is reported to be not dependent on his retaining an executive position within the FAI. He was elected with an overwhelming show of support from across Europe in 2017 and his term of office in the role runs until 2021.

He is Chair of the Committee that has overall responsibility for the U17 Euro Championship Finals taking place here next month and would also be expected to have a key role in the Euro 2020 Finals taking place in part in Dublin next year.

UEFA have not commented publicly other than to say they are aware of what is happening in Dublin.

Depending on the deliberations of the Board today they may have to come out with a clearer statement this week.

The Government has played a smart game continually highlighting that FAI matters are the responsibility of the FAI and that it is only in relation to the use of public funding that they have a rightful interest.

While members of the Oireachtas Committee may have steeped close to or over the mark in calling for individual resignations, that is not in the name of the Government and so cannot be raised as political interference which would cause a whole new potential set of challenges.

Anybody who says they know exactly what the Board will decide today is doing so from a position of conjecture rather than certainty. The signs are though that there will be substantial change before the day is out.

Read More: Government Turns the Financial Screw on FAI

 


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