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Wednesday 21 August 2019

FAI director: We didn't know of €2m John Delaney loyalty deal

'Golden handcuffs' contract clause allowed former chief executive to double his earnings

FAI director John Earley. Photo: Sportsfile
FAI director John Earley. Photo: Sportsfile

John Fallon

FAI director John Earley has confirmed that John Delaney's bumper €2m package was concealed from board members.

As the association began to implode in March amid revelations around finance, details of an additional loyalty bonus above the chief executive's €360,000 salary emerged.

The "golden handcuffs" clause from Delaney's 2014 contract renewal, entitling him to €2m for staying until 2021, doubled his earnings.

As was the case with the secretive €100,000 loan Delaney gave his employers in 2017, the transaction didn't appear in the annual accounts and was kept from the vast majority of the board.

Former FAI chief executive John Delaney. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile
Former FAI chief executive John Delaney. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile

Departing board member Niamh O'Donoghue touched on the subject in her swansong over the weekend, referring to concerns on the "accounting treatment of various arrangements".

Earley is chairman of the Schoolboys Football Association of Ireland (SFAI) which has a membership of 120,000 underage players. He first joined the board in 2015 but wasn't informed about either deal.

The Tipperary native was first notified of the contentious loan by Delaney at a board meeting in early March.

This was only disclosed following media queries that were submitted to the FAI and Delaney about the matter.

Earley is annoyed that Sports Minister Shane Ross is withholding funding to Irish football until he's satisfied proper governance is in place.

A portion of the annual €2.9m Sport Ireland grant to the FAI is earmarked for the 32 schoolboy leagues.

The SFAI attempted to meet with Minister Ross ahead of Saturday's AGM to plead their case.

"I wasn't aware of those deals (about Delaney)," admitted Earley.

“The sector I represent is not responsible for the situation the FAI finds itself in.

“Minister Ross is living in cloud cuckoo land if he thinks the breakdown in the FAI was caused by the schoolboys’ sector.

“We would have liked to tell him directly last week but didn’t get a response to our request.

“The grants suspension is penalising us. Leagues and clubs badly need state aid because we could never survive alone on what the FAI give us. We’ve had to secure sponsorship deals ourselves, independent of the FAI, to run our national competitions.”

Last night, a spokesman for Minister Ross said the SFAI meeting request was under consideration.

Earley also reiterated the Minister’s desire for an entirely new board to take charge at the FAI. He had resigned in June but was re-elected at Saturday’s AGM from the newly-formed constituency for the schoolboys and schoolgirls sections.

He, along with FAI president Donal Conway, are the only two survivors from the board in place before Delaney’s demise.

His return forced the incumbent Noel Fitzroy to withdraw from the election for vice-president, as a successful outcome would have exceeded the maximum two directors staying on, as recommended by the Governance Review Group (GRG).

Earley defended his return to the top table, arguing that he was chosen democratically through his membership structure.

Conway recently admitted the GRG report was revised between the draft and final stages to double the volume of SFAI delegates on the council.

That guaranteed them a clear majority of votes on the committee electing their candidate from their constituency. Earley had quit during the interim.

“Schoolboy football should have a voice on the board and I was picked,” said Earley.

“I’m there for 12 months and

we’ll review the situation after that.”

Irish Independent

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