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O'Leary quits after making mark with FAI

FAI Finance man Mark O'Leary, who played a big part in designing the model currently being used to repay the Aviva Stadium debt, has resigned.

O'Leary gave the keynote address to delegates at the FAI AGM in Wexford a few weeks back but gave no hint at the time that he intended to walk away.

In fact, CEO John Delaney was quick to praise O'Leary's role in the development of the Association in recent years and it must be a blow to all concerned in Abbotstown that he has decided to quit.

Given recent speculation about the actual amount which the FAI currently owe -- thought to be over €50m -- and extremely difficult trading conditions, his decision to quit now will not help ongoing efforts to play down the debt.

"He actually stayed on a little bit longer than his contractual period," said FAI media director Peter Sherrard.

"He wanted to stay for the completion of the stadium and the AGM. There are personal and private reasons and professional reasons for the timing of the announcement and the way it is being done.

"We would like to thank him very much for his contribution to the association over the past five years.

"He has done a good job to get us where we are in terms of the financing of the stadium and seeing the project out.

"Of course, we are sorry to see him go, I think he has done a very good job for the association, which has come on a lot in his five years."

Delaney was also quick to praise O'Leary's work over the past five years. "Over the past five years, during what has been a period of sustained growth and development for the Association, Mark has made a very significant contribution, putting in place the necessary financing arrangements to fund its share of the Aviva Stadium construction costs and having significantly improved the financial reporting and controls in the Association," he said.

Mortgage provider NIB, the funding source for the the Aviva, refused to comment on O'Leary's resignation.

"We would never comment publicly on private matters like this," said spokesman Simon Fullam.

According to an FAI statement, Padraig Smith will fill O'Leary's role on an interim basis until a permanent appointment can be made.