Sunday 26 February 2017

Delaney adamant FAI can cover Aviva costs

JOHN DELANEY has broken his silence on the FAI's troubled sale of Vantage Club tickets to restate his confidence that the association has a business plan to cover all debt from the construction of the Aviva Stadium.

However, he has again refused to provide any specific details on the amount of seats that have actually been sold and stressed that he has no plans to do so publicly in the future.

The FAI turned down a number of interview requests earlier this month after an Irish Independent investigation revealed that less than 3,000 of the 10,400 seats had been sold since the Vantage project was launched in September 2008.

Launched

When third-party ticket agents ISG finished their two-year contract at the end of August, they had allocated 4,077 seats, but that included 939 existing members who hadn't paid a cent since the project was launched and multiple cancellations which remained in the system.

Considerable discounts were availed of by many of those who followed through on ticket purchases, thus leaving it unclear as to how much cash the FAI have taken in from a project which they invested heavily in.

CEO Delaney had stated at the outset of the project that 60pc sales represented break-even point for the FAI and insisted yesterday that the association are on target when sponsorship commitments are taken into account.

Yet there is no clarity on whether Abbotstown authorities have allocated those seats to sponsors at anything close to their original value. '3' Mobile are understood to have an option to take up to 2,000 seats at premium level. Their four-year shirt sponsorship deal with the FAI is worth €7.5m, with '3' Mobile stating that the deal with Irish football's governing body includes a 'range of ticketing and supporter' initiatives.

The value of 2,000 seats at the original prices would be €24m.

Delaney is adamant that the association will be able to meet its substantial borrowings. The FAI had €46m in bank loans at the end of 2009, and have since shelled out a further €21.9m towards the renovation of the old Lansdowne Road. Interest on loans will add to the repayments over the next decade.

"What I said was that 60pc was the break-even figure. We're at that, as we've told everybody, and we're happy with that," said Delaney. "There are only roughly 3,700 Vantage seats available for us to sell to the public."

When asked how many tickets had been sold, Delaney replied: "I'm not going to go into that with you. I've been through this a hundred times and I'm not going to go into that anymore.

"No business would be forensically examined to the extent of saying these are the ones we've sold, this is the cash we've collected. I keep saying to you that our banks are happy, our grass-root members are happy and I really have to say that's all that matters to the association."

"I'm not going to go into the different sponsors. We all know that sponsors take a number of tickets. The GAA do it, the IRFU do it, every sporting body does it.

"We've solid board support, we've solid council support, we've solid grass-roots support. Now you can keep asking these questions for the next 10 years for all I care really, or for all the association cares, because we're doing our stuff and we're proving it day in, day out."

Delaney said the FAI have a 10-year sponsorship announcement on the way which could guarantee at least €10m in cash over the next decade, as well as other options. He was speaking at a photocall with US telecommunications provider Shared Access.

The company will erect floodlights for clubs around the country in return for being able to use the masts to provide enhanced broadband and mobile phone coverage in the locality.

Already 400 clubs have applied for the scheme.

Irish Independent

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