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Friday 23 August 2019

TDs enlist help of corporate expert to probe Delaney loans

Controversy: John Delaney, now executive vice-president of the FAI, at the match against Georgia on Tuesday. Picture: Sportsfile
Controversy: John Delaney, now executive vice-president of the FAI, at the match against Georgia on Tuesday. Picture: Sportsfile
Expert: Professor Niamh Brennan, whose expertise is to be sought by the Sports Committee

Wayne O'Connor, Philip Ryan and Daniel McDonnell

A corporate governance expert will be asked to help TDs investigating the loan provided to the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) by former chief executive John Delaney.

The Oireachtas Sports Committee is to enlist the services of Professor Niamh Brennan, director of the UCD Centre for Corporate Governance.

The committee is due to meet Mr Delaney and the FAI next month to question them about the €100,000 loan.

At a private meeting yesterday, members held a lengthy discussion on the much-anticipated questioning of Mr Delaney about the bridging loan.

TDs agreed that outside expertise was required to prepare the committee for the hearing, at which the former FAI chief executive will be asked to explain the loan and other corporate governance matters.

They suggested seeking the advice of Professor Brennan.

The FAI will meet the committee on April 10 .

The body had asked for the meeting to be brought forward to April 3 but this will not happen because, the committee said, it had not received the information it requested from the FAI.

Committee chairman Fergus O'Dowd yesterday urged the FAI to respond urgently to its correspondence "seeking clarification of certain matters and further information on other matters".

The committee asked for information relating to the €100,000 payment Mr Delaney made to the association in April 2017.

The FAI has said this was a "bridging loan" used to help a cash flow problem. Mr Delaney was repaid the €100,000 two months later.

However, Mr O'Dowd said the committee has not received a response from the FAI.

"The request we got back [from the FAI] was to have the meeting brought forward to April 3," he said.

"Our committee has agreed to schedule a meeting on that date with Sport Ireland because Sport Ireland is the body responsible for governance, oversight and scrutiny of sporting bodies.

"Our scheduled meeting with the FAI, the committee has agreed, will proceed on April 10 as planned."

Mr Delaney stood down as chief executive last weekend to move into the position of executive vice-president.

The FAI has conformed he will attend the Oireachtas hearing.

Members of the FAI board were in Abbotstown yesterday as discussions continued about their reaction to a turbulent spell for the game. However, there was no comment from the association last night.

Sources insisted that the FAI is in the process of formulating its response to matters arising from the Oireachtas hearing, rather than planning further changes at boardroom level after widespread criticism of Mr Delaney's move.

There was further speculation around Mr Delaney's position before Tuesday's win over Georgia and some fans participated in a protest where tennis balls were flung onto the pitch.

According to Mr O'Dowd, on March 22 the Oireachtas Sports Committee, through its clerk, made a number of requests to the FAI.

"We sought conformation as a matter of urgency the date in early April when the FAI governance review would be completed and conformation that the outcomes of that review will be brought to the attention of this committee well in advance of our meeting," he said.

"We have received no reply to that correspondence.

"And we now ask that the FAI would supply this information urgently and at the earliest possible opportunity to our committee well in advance of our proposed meeting on April 10."

Irish Independent

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