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Friday 17 January 2020

Dempsey withdraws from FAI board appointment process

Paddy Dempsey was set to join the FAI board. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Paddy Dempsey was set to join the FAI board. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

John Fallon

Just over 24 hours after being nominated as the Schoolboys Football Association of Ireland's (SFAI) nominee to the FAI board, Paddy Dempsey has withdrawn.

Citing demands on "time and energies", the Dublin District Schoolboys League (DDSL) chairman said he made the decision after discussing the matter with family and friends.

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Dempsey's candidacy for the board could have caused further strain on relations between the FAI and the Government ahead of a crunch meeting today.

His league, the largest in Europe, had publicly supported John Delaney in March when the former FAI chief executive faced mounting pressure amid a string of controversial revelations. The statement was not signed.

Ultimately, the DDSL, like the FAI, is run by a board, of which Dempsey is not chairman, but he is the public face of the league. In 2014, the DDSL made an upfront payment of €500,000 to the FAI for a 15-year rental agreement for pitches at the Abbotstown campus.

Sports minister Shane Ross was adamant that all board members under the regime of Delaney had to be cleared out before state funding could be restored.

FAI president Donal Conway has vowed to quit next month and the other survivor from the Delaney era, John Earley, quit with immediate effect last Thursday.

Dempsey (62) was selected as the nominee to replace Earley as a full meeting of the SFAI council on Saturday. Now that he's out of the running, Earley's vice-chairman Padraic Clarke will be favourite to go forward.

He must first win a ballot against a rival proposed by the schoolgirl section, but the SFAI's eight delegates on the 10-person committee should make that a formality.

Dempsey, in a statement issued last night to the 31 leagues in the SFAI, said: "I was honoured to be nominated by my colleagues within the SFAI but, on reflection, I now appreciate that because of family and work commitments, I would not be able to devote my full commitment to a role which is sure to be demanding.

"I recognise that the game and those elected to the FAI board requires a huge demand on their time and energies.

"In the interests of providing clarity, I'm making this decision now so that the SFAI can look for a suitable alternative at the earliest opportunity.

"I would like to place on record my gratitude to all my SFAI colleagues on the council and executive for their support of my nomination and hope they will be understanding of the reason why I must withdraw my name at this time."

Irish Independent

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