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Saturday 25 May 2019

Grassroots stand by Delaney as Uefa mulls next move

Associate: Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin is a close ally of John Delaney. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images
Associate: Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin is a close ally of John Delaney. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images

Daniel McDonnell and Anne Marie-Walsh

Leading voices within Uefa have concerns about John Delaney's future role within European football's governing body after the former CEO stepped aside from his role with the FAI.

The Irish Independent understands that Uefa officials have become alarmed at the volume of queries relating to Mr Delaney following damning revelations about the FAI.

Mr Delaney is a member of Uefa's Executive Committee, a lucrative post worth €160,000 per year. He was elected to the top table in April 2017 - the same month he gave the FAI a €100,000 bridging loan. The emergence of the existence of this loan kicked off the crisis that has enveloped the FAI.

Mr Delaney was confident he would retain his Uefa post even though he has "voluntarily stepped aside" from FAI duties pending the completion of an independent investigation into issues of concern.

But it's understood there is growing disquiet among Uefa officials. FAI board members are unhappy at the prospect of Mr Delaney staying on Uefa duty while he is sidelined from his domestic association due to ongoing enquiries.

Meanwhile, sources say Sport Ireland is working behind the scenes to fast-track an audit of the FAI's corporate governance structure.

However, it will have to pass a number of restructuring and evaluation tests before its funding could be restored - possibly this August. That could mean a long window of uncertainty hanging over important infrastructural projects such as Dalymount Park and Glanmire in Cork which need State backing.

Mr Delaney still retains support at grassroots level with a number of attendees at an FAI Development Committee meeting earlier this week strongly of the view that he has been harshly treated.

They are unhappy with political attention, believing TDs have sought to use the FAI as a distraction from the National Children's Hospital controversy.

Yet Uefa is now believed to be closely monitoring the Irish situation - it has provided 'no comment' to a stream of questions surrounding Mr Delaney's status.

It has also been dragged into another Irish matter after Waterford were refused a Uefa licence for the forthcoming European campaign.

Owner Lee Power has taken legal advice and is planning to look for compensation after stating that he was 'misled' by FAI officials who gave assurances that the Blues would pass the Uefa criteria.

He has called for a full investigation into the FAI's handling of the episode.

Uefa officials have become conscious that the situation regarding Mr Delaney could overshadow the European U17 Championships at the beginning of next month. Mr Delaney is the chair of the Uefa Youth and Amateur Committee and would be expected to be front and centre.

The Waterford man is a close ally of Uefa President Aleksander Ceferin.

Irish Independent

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