Thursday 30 March 2017

Delaney's €5,000 round a big hit with fans

Niamh Horan

Niamh Horan

Irish soccer fans have given John Delaney a big thumbs-up for splashing out €5,000 of his own money on beer for Irish supporters during an away trip last week.

In a Sunday Independent poll, almost three quarters of those polled (74 per cent) thought the well-off FAI chief had done the right thing.

And despite the controversy that followed his overt display of wealth, the poll found most people believed that he could do as he pleased with his money.

The football boss hit headlines last week when it emerged that he had bought a round for a train-load of Irish fans on a free train-ride from Bratislava to to the match in the town of Zilina for the match against Slovakia.

Only 26 per cent of those polled did not think it was right for him to spend his money on the round -- with many arguing he should have used it in a more constructive fashion such as giving it to small soccer clubs or charity.

Others took a more cynical view -- describing it as a public-relations stunt to curry favour with the fans.

Mr Delaney has weathered much criticism of late over the cost of tickets and access at the Aviva Stadium, and this was evident in some of the disparaging responses of those polled.

"If he is throwing that amount of money around then he is being overpaid," said one.

Another argued, "all this does is copperfasten people's attitude abroad that we are the drunken Irish".

Still, Mr Delaney was said to have been enjoying his newfound popularity among fans -- after years of watching the players receive all the glory.

"There is a lot of doom and gloom in the country at the moment," he said at the time before adding that a win against Slovakia would "bring a lot of positivity to the country, which is badly needed".

The FAI decided to lay on the free train for the UEFA European Championship qualifier after the venue was switched from Bratislava to Zilina, causing a transport headache for travelling fans.

Sunday Independent

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