Friday 15 December 2017

Scottish FA tell FAI to 'keep their mouth shut'

John Delaney and (right) Stewart Regan
John Delaney and (right) Stewart Regan
It's been a 'challenging week' for FAI chief John Delaney
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Scottish FA chief executive Stewart Regan has poured scorn on the FAI ahead of Saturday's crunch Euro 2016 qualifier by arguing that they have talked themselves into trouble.

Regan believes that a 'challenging' week for the FAI has been self-inflicted after the confirmation of a €5m loan from FIFA in the aftermath of Thierry Henry's handball made headlines around the world.

He believes it is 'ludicrous' that the FAI pursued compensation after the controversial World Cup play-off.

Today, the Oireachtas sub-committee on sport will decide whether to summon John Delaney to discuss questions arising from the FIFA deal.

Independent TD Tom Fleming, a member of that committee, wants a broader debate about Delaney's €360,000-a-year salary and called for it to be halved.

Regan took issue with the Waterford man last year during the row over the size of the Irish ticket allocation for their Celtic Park clash.

Delaney accused of the SFA of being unprofessional for allowing Irish fans to buy seats in home sections because of high demand.

But Regan believes that the FAI chief was out of order to infer there could be tension in the stands and linked those comments with the furore of the past week.

"It has been a challenging week for the FAI in lots of different ways. I've always worked under the assumption if you haven't got anything positive to say then keep your mouth shut," said Regan.

"The FAI have chosen to speak on a number of different fronts, recently and last November, and we've just got on quietly and prepared for the match and we'll continue to do that.

"Words such as 'tension' and 'security' were used last November. There was lots of scaremongering and it was proven that Scotland fans just got on with the game and intermingled with fans from Ireland.

"There were no issues and we fully expect the same to happen again in Dublin. As much as we only have five per cent of the ticket allocation (circa 3,500) we expect around 10,000 Scotland fans to travel and get access into the ground and I'm sure they'll have a great night.

"We kept our powder dry at the time. We didn't make any comment on any of the criticisms that were levelled. We'll continue to focus on the football."

The deterioration in relations between the blazers was confirmed before the Glasgow encounter when FAI officials stayed away from the traditional pre-match function.

Regan has admitted that he was insulted by that snub and says his executive team will attend the Dublin formalities. "We always turn up to officials' functions," he said. "We do things the right way."

It's unlikely there will be agreement on the FAI's €5m arrangement with FIFA if it crops up in discussion with Regan discussing Scotland's own relationship with a character that is central to the global football scandal.

"We were once asked to make a payment of £75,000 into Jack Warner's account for his personal use following a Scotland-Trinidad and Tobago match and he was sent packing with a flea in his ear.

"As far as we're concerned, we play matches the right way and qualify - hopefully - in the right way. Scotland do things professionally.

"We would not be interested in having any debate over whether or not there was compensation due on the back of a refereeing error. It's a ludicrous statement, quite frankly."

Regan, speaking after his association's AGM, was asked directly about the Delaney's comments about the SFA's professionalism during the ticketing dispute that posed problems for the FAI when loyal fans missed out.

"What do you think of that in light of events of the last week?" replied Regan. "Those people who have listened to those comments will form their own opinions on what John Delaney has said."

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