‘I hope John Delaney is aware of this’ – Ireland captain Emma Byrne calls on FAI chief to listen to women’s team
Republic of Ireland Women’s National team captain Emma Byrne has called on FAI CEO John Delaney to listen to the women’s national team as Colin Bell’s squad continue their prolonged negotiations with the FAI over playing conditions.
In an extraordinary meeting at Liberty Hall Theatre in Dublin today, 14 players from the women's team, accompanied by members of the Professional Footballers Association of Ireland, outlined their grievances with the FAI regarding player welfare and treatment on international duty.
Issues included the lack of remuneration for players on international duty, the lack of proper kit, no gym memberships, and having to share tracksuits with underage sides, which have all come to a head over the last two years and have left the danger of strike action.
Byrne called on Delaney to listen to the player’s issues and for the FAI to engage with the players’ elected representative the PFAI.
“Thanks for telling me what John makes,” Bynre said in response to being informed of Delaney’s annual salary of €360,000.
“This has nothing to do with what he earns or what the men earn anyway, it’s about making sure our girls can turn up for camps, can play for the Irish team without being out of pocket, or having to worry about bills or mortgages, because that’s what’s going on at the minute.
“I don’t think it’s that much of a sacrifice to make to give us that budget to allow us to play for our country. That’s the problem we’re having.
“I understand that John Delaney makes a lot of money, but we’re not looking for anything like that, we’re just looking to play, turn up, focus, concentrate, and we’re very united about this. We’re very determined to get this sorted this week and it’s in the hands of the FAI.
“We’re leaving it with them, and with our PFAI representatives. We don’t want to have to deal with this.”
The women’s team are looking for access to strength and conditioning programmes, gym memberships for the entire squad, hotel accommodation with suitable wi-fi, more home-based training sessions, non-professional players to receive loss of earnings documented by their employers, and a match fee of €300 for all international fixtures, among other issues they want to see addressed.
The players’ have repeatedly stressed to the FAI that they want all correspondence and mediation to be conducted through their elected representative the PFAI, however, the FAI told the PFAI in correspondence that they ‘don’t deal with third parties in relation to the national teams’, despite the men’s team enlisting the services of BDO strategist Ciaran Medlar to negotiate their bonus package for last summer’s Euro 2016 finals in France.
It is understood that Delaney was in Helsinki today as he runs for a position on UEFA’s Executive Committee (ExCo), which will be filled at its annual congress in the Finnish capital on April 5th.
Byrne called on the FAI Chief Executive to help try and resolve the issue, but that the team has had no communication from the 49-year-old since he told the PFAI that he would bring their letter to the board of management of the FAI late last year.
“I wasn’t aware of that, I don’t know where he is or what he’s doing,” said Byrne when informed Delaney was out of the country.
“I’m really surprised it hasn’t been resolved now. To be honest, I didn’t think it was going to come to this. I was hoping it was going to be resolved before.
“I was hoping that we could turn for training tomorrow and focus on the game on Monday [against Slovakia]. But it’s not and that’s why we’re here today. I hope John is aware of this, we have not had any communication from him.”
The women’s team are due to play Slovakia on Monday but said that they will be assessing all of their options before the game, including withdrawing from the fixture.