Editorial: 'We must be told more on Delaney's FAI exit terms'
For some soccer enthusiasts John Delaney was a popular leader of the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) who helped many local developments. Others held a less benign view of the man who was from 2005 until March of this year the FAI's chief executive.
Mr Delaney was briefly and controversially the association's executive vice-president. Then he stood aside altogether from the organisation pending various inquiries into the FAI's affairs.
This process is understood to be largely completed and publication of one of three reports is thought to be some days away. Many Irish people interested in sport of all kinds, but especially soccer, will study the findings closely.
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Meanwhile the weekend brought the sudden news that Mr Delaney has severed all connection with the FAI. A terse four-paragraph statement told us very little more.
"The FAI will fulfil certain notice and pension obligations as agreed between the parties," the official statement said. That was the closest we got to learning anything about the severance terms. The statement also signalled that no more information would be forthcoming. "Both parties have agreed to make no further comment," it stated.
Sports Minister Shane Ross has rightly delivered a very strong challenge to this stance. The minister insists that publication of the full severance terms is necessary for a number of reasons - but all based around the need to restore the Irish people's confidence in the FAI. He further made it clear that full publication of Mr Delaney's exit package would be required before he could advise the Government to restore taxpayers' funding to the FAI.
Mr Ross is completely correct in making this demand. For much of this year, the FAI has been in the news for disquieting events off the pitch, far more than for any sporting exploits by the men and women who fly the national colours with pride.
Things were thrown into disarray last March when it emerged that Mr Delaney had given a loan of €100,000 to the FAI back in 2017. There followed further revelations about the level of expenses being paid to Mr Delaney, including a large sum to cover house rental.
The FAI leadership, including Mr Delaney, appeared before the Oireachtas committee responsible for sport last April. On that occasion Mr Delaney said the legal advice he had obtained precluded him from discussing the FAI's finances or the issue of the unusual €100,000 loan by him to the FAI. When the news had broken a month earlier, he had defended the loan as "in the best interests of the association at a time when immediate funding was needed".
There is a sense that we are getting close to the end of the inquiries and there are signals that the FAI leadership is anxious to move on.
But Mr Ross has again warned that he wants major changes of personnel in the FAI leadership. He says too many of the current board were contemporaries of Mr Delaney serving through many of the controversies. Irish soccer is facing into a very challenging period.