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Thursday 21 September 2017

Delaney defends 10 per cent wage cut as act of leadership

John Fallon

FAI chief executive John Delaney has resolutely defended his decision to shave just 10 per cent off his salary.

Delaney informed over 150 delegates at yesterday's FAI Annual General Meeting in Letterkenny of the voluntary cut which still leaves his wages at a hefty €360,000, down from €431,000 in 2010.

He revealed too that the association is only paying interest on their debt incurred on the re-development of the Lansdowne Road stadium. Delaney confirmed that the stadium bank loan remains at €50million -- but insisted this would be cleared by 2020.

According to the FAI's 2011 accounts produced at yesterday's AGM, interest paid on the loans last year amounted to €4.8m, more than double the 2010 figure of €2.1m.

Bumper home attendances during the second half of 2011 for the Republic of Ireland's Euro 2012 qualifier against Armenia and the subsequent play-off with Estonia helped raise turnover to €45m. Profits were down, however, with a retained surplus of €141,768.

On the issue of his pay cut, Delaney said: "I've taken it to show leadership within the association. This is my third time to take a pay cut and it was voluntary. I don't know what my counterparts (in the GAA and IRFU) earn. I know that I earned more before taking the job and I've been offered other better-paid positions since while in this role."

When asked if he would consider further cuts, he replied: "Like Giovanni Trapattoni says -- never say never."

Recent speculation on the FAI owing another €19m to finance firm Ticketus were rebutted, though the chief executive admitted an amount is outstanding. Although the FAI recently revealed €900,000 is owed, Delaney was unwilling to divulge any details of the deal.

"The figure is nowhere near that and I'm not going to give a figure. There's been a lot of talk around about Ticketus but they're happy with the arrangement.

"Certain information we are happy to share with the public but other information is not really something that should be in the public domain."

It was also revealed by Delaney that negotiations are ongoing with the English FA to arrange home and away friendly fixtures.

"We're looking at playing two games against England, sooner rather than later. One will be in Dublin, with the other at Wembley. I met (chief executive) Alex Horne from the English FA at the European Championships and we're due to meet them in the coming month.

"There was a game against England arranged for May of this year but Fabio Capello didn't want to play it. Maybe that was because of being up against Trapattoni."

Staff numbers in the FAI reduced last year by six to 173 and associated costs dropped by 15 per cent. Although the upcoming visit of Germany for the World Cup qualifier in October will generate close to the €10m achieved from their last game in Dublin in 2007, the absence of any other competitive home game during 2012 brings with it an income deficit.

It was therefore not a surprise to hear Delaney indicating that further cost-savings will be required in the coming two years to manage the finances. Child Protection Officer Michael Lynam was the latest employee made redundant last week and more jobs may be shed.

"It's never easy to make anyone redundant but it's happening all over in Ireland. The number of staff was 50-odd jobs when I took over, so I've created a lot of jobs for the association with the support of the board. I think that has been good for the association. We never like to see that but unfortunately it is a fact of life.

"We have a challenging 18 months ahead but there's €40million coming in from 2014 through the UEFA television deal. It's only interest we're paying on the debt at the moment but through the course (of the next eight years), we will be repaying capital. By 2020, those borrowings will be zero."

Delaney said that the proposed friendly against Poland next February in Dublin is close to being finalised. He also said another warm-up match against yet-to-be confirmed opposition could be scheduled in London during the week after Ireland's opening World Cup qualifier in Kazakhstan on September 7. The Aviva Stadium is unavailable that week due to the Lady Gaga concert.

News is expected in the coming weeks on the contract situation of Ireland under 19 head coach Paul Doolin as his two-year deal expires this month.

"I think Paul has done a very good job and there'll be an announcement on that in the very near future," Delaney said.

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