Friday 26 December 2014

Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown, but King John will not abdicate

Philip Quinn

Published 24/10/2007 | 00:00

'KING JOHN' Delaney has seen enough blood on the carpets in Merrion Square to know when chief executives are wounded and vulnerable to attack. Right now, Delaney's shield is missing; his guard has dropped.

In a rich irony, 'King John, The Teflon Don' would be more exposed to a challenge if there was a John Delaney-type adversary sniping from the shadows.

In the past, Delaney has been the poacher, plunging his sword into the open flanks of former FAI chiefs Bernard O'Byrne, Brendan Menton and Fran Rooney, whom he turned on after initially supporting.

Now, as keeper of the gate, his loyal lieutenants riding shotgun on the Merrion Mansions ramparts, Delaney is perfectly placed to cut down any would-be adversary should they dare attack.

The reign of King John has seen peace and stability return to the FAI fiefdom.

The revenue harvest is high; the peasants are tilling the fields without rancour.

There is a spanking new battlefield being built in Dublin 4; a fine castle is almost ready for FAI occupation in Abbottstown.

Also, King John, The Teflon Don has signed a peace treaty with the former enemy, the 'Common Low-Class Gaels' to allow his army pitch tent in their backyard.

The only note of discord has come from the foreign battlefields where King John's chosen general, Steve Staunton, has been outfought and out-thought in combat.

'General Stan' was a warrior in battle but as a general he has been a failure, and King John's support for one so unproven has been called into question by the natives, some of whom are restless.

If King John hears the dissenters, he doesn't acknowledge them. This is his first crisis and he has no intention of abdicating.

A brown-nosed coterie of subjects is telling him to stay where he is; it's what he wants to hear.

The king-maker turned king has come a long way since 'The Night of the Long Knives' on March 8, 1996 when he made a pledge in Dublin to avenge his father, 'Baron Joe', who had been ousted as FAI Treasurer in a political coup.

Then 'Prince John' felt, as he still does today, that Baron Joe had been unfairly shafted by his own people, and set about righting a family wrong with a driven zeal.

Within five years, Delaney, as league delegate of Waterford, had worked his way up the FAI's greasy political pole, emerging as the youngest treasurer in FAI history in 2001. Delaney wasn't stopping there; he had further ambitions to fulfil.

Each eruption in Merrion Mansions moved Delaney closer to the throne, to which he acceded, in December '04, initially in an acting capacity, before his appointment was made full-time in March '05.

By then, Delaney had experienced nine years within the FAI corridors of power.

He had watched officers come and go, built up his own network, moved allies into key supportive positions.

As someone who threatened to quit the football fiefdom many times, King John is here for the long haul having, 11 months ago, after discussing things with himself, extending his €300,000 a year contract until 2012.

As he surveys his empire, he can see few opponents with the stomach for a fight.

King John's crown has tilted, but will it fall?

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