Delaney sheds a little light on key concerns
The county councillors and football officials who attended the launch of this year's FAI AGM in Ennis got a fair idea of what they can expect when the roadshow officially rolls into town in the second week of July.
FAI chief executive John Delaney gave the audience a taster by introducing a short video which featured the highlights of the 2010 jamboree in Wexford. Remarkably, Delaney managed to pop up more than 30 times in the montage of clips that followed, with supporting roles from the likes of Ray Houghton, John Aldridge, Marco Tardelli and former employee Packie Bonner.
Whether by accident or design, Delaney is the face of the FAI now and the spotlight turned on the Waterford man yesterday morning as -- leaving aside the odd 'Morning Ireland' cameo and the japing on 'Mooney Goes Wild' -- he gave his first lengthy media briefing on the state of the Irish football nation in 2011. He addressed some of the pressing issues on his trip to Clare, while indicating that matters will be laid out in more detail in two months' time.
This is an issue that will not be decided until the autumn, but the state of the association's finances may ultimately determine whether the Italian or a replacement can be maintained at the current €1.7m-a-year salary.
The continued input of Denis O'Brien will be vital, and Delaney indicated that he expects to have discussions with the businessman about continuing their arrangement into a third campaign, although he stressed that the decision on the future manager will fall to the FAI board.
As for Trapattoni, who has expressed a desire to stay on for the World Cup 2014 campaign, Delaney said that the board haven't got around to discussing that matter just yet. They seem confident enough that the Italian will be prepared to enter the business end of the Euro 2012 campaign with his future uncertain.
John Delaney's salary
When it was announced back in December that he would be taking a 'substantial' cut on his salary -- then believed to be €430,000 -- Delaney said that the exact details would be revealed in due course.
However, he has refused to answer questions on the topic since then, and batted it away yesterday, instead giving the impression that he would be more open in July.
It remains to be seen if delegates will ask how the remuneration for the position of chief executive crept up to such a level in the first place.
State of FAI Finances
Delaney is sticking by his promise that the FAI will break even on their Aviva Stadium debt by 2020, although he also pointed out that the centralisation of the UEFA TV rights gave them an extra €20m, which they hadn't budgeted for initially.
That money will kick in from 2014 onwards, and the prospect of that revenue coming over the horizon has been cited as the impetus for the latest round of price cuts for Ireland home matches.
Certainly, for a variety of reasons, the FAI cannot afford to continue with turn-outs of just 20,000 for senior games at the renovated Lansdowne Road.
Delaney expects a "modest profit" to be recorded for 2010, a year that ended with 12 staff, including Bonner, losing their jobs. He suggested that the next 18 months will be challenging, failing to rule out further staff cuts.
"No business would give you that (guarantee)," he said. "But what I can say is that the centralisation of TV rights has given us a great certainty that may not have existed."
Europa League Tickets
This is more of a UEFA issue than an FAI event, but there has been a considerable build-up to the showpiece in football corridors here, and Delaney stressed his belief that there will be a full house on Wednesday week for the slightly underwhelming collision of Porto and Braga.
While Porto have said they will take their full 12,000 allocation, the latter will today confirm their take-up for Dublin, with suggestions they might take only a quarter of the same figure. Additional tickets for Irish fans went on sale from Ticketmaster yesterday.
The FAI will be hoping for a positive take-up, although they haven't been helped by the identity of the protagonists.
The Shannonsiders indicated they were willing to fight the FAI all the way on the decision to block their friendly with Barcelona last summer, but their legal case was confidentially settled.
Remember, the FAI had suggested that the cost of fighting Limerick could impact upon the League of Ireland budget for 2011, so delegates will be entitled to ask if agreeing a handshake has impacted upon the overall finances.
The Barca visit to Thomond was stopped by the FAI, who said they had a third-party deal with Endemol which prevented them from granting friendly matches with a capacity greater than 15,000 (they initially said it was 20,000).
It's believed that, as part of the out-of-court terms, Limerick may have more joy if they make an application for Thomond games in this and future years. Delaney wasn't giving much away, but it's an uncomfortable topic for all involved.
"If they apply, based on the agreement we have with that club, we'll consider that application," said Delaney before adding, "Based on certain criteria, I would have no difficulty with it."