Tuesday 23 July 2019

Dundalk faced delays after writing to John Delaney seeking their €300,000

Club sent urgent request for money weeks before former FAI chief's €100,000 loan

John Delaney with FAI Officials pictured leaving Leaving Leinster House Pic: Colin O'Riordan
John Delaney with FAI Officials pictured leaving Leaving Leinster House Pic: Colin O'Riordan
FAI President Donal Conway. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Dundalk met with delays after writing to John Delaney in March 2017 to seek €300,000 - almost a month before the FAI chief loaned his employer €100,000.

Correspondence between Dundalk, Mr Delaney and ex-FAI director of finance Eamon Breen shows the club sent an urgent request for money. This was in the weeks leading up the cash-flow problem that resulted in Mr Delaney giving a loan.

Last week, this newspaper revealed that the League of Ireland champions did not receive €2.2m of European prize money for performances in 2016 until the last week of November 2017.

Uefa gives the rewards to the national association, who duly pass it along to clubs.

Dundalk earned close to €7m from a Europa League run under Stephen Kenny, and were keen on an arrangement where the FAI paid them in instalments upon request. Uefa confirmed that all performance-related payments were paid out by mid-January 2017.

The Irish Independent understands that a representative from the League of Ireland champions contacted Mr Delaney on March 29, 2017, to say they needed €300,000 to pay for the upgrade of their artificial pitch and other bills.

Mr Delaney replied saying the FAI would pay Dundalk €300,000 on April 12 if that was acceptable.

Dundalk responded on March 30 to assert that they required a quicker payment.

That was followed up by an email from Mr Breen, who advised that - on foot of the correspondence with Mr Delaney - the association was processing a €25,000 same-day transfer to the Louth club.

Dundalk's next payment was another €25,000, which came through on April 13.

They then received €100,000 on April 21, four days before Mr Delaney wrote a €100,000 cheque to his employer.

After sending another request to Mr Breen on April 26, Dundalk's then owners were correctly told they would get the remaining €150,000 via a transfer on April 28.

Mr Delaney this week told an Oireachtas hearing he was surprised by the extent of the cash-flow problems, when advised at an internal finance meeting on April 25 that the FAI would exceed a €1.5m overdraft limit if all cheques and bank transfers issued were presented for payment.

"I recalled thinking at the time, if I had been approached even a few days earlier, I may have been able to better address the issue," he said.

On Wednesday, the FAI delegation was asked by Fine Gael's Noel Rock if Dundalk were a creditor referenced in a statement about the circumstances that led to Mr Delaney's cheque being required.

President Donal Conway refused to confirm the identity but said: "We had an ongoing dialogue with that creditor but that is an internal FAI matter."

Later on, Sinn Féin's Jonathan O'Brien pressed the FAI on the issue of how Uefa money is dispersed.

The new finance director, Alex O'Connell, said that money from Uefa does not go directly into the main FAI account - but said it goes into a 'Uefa account'.

He confirmed that Abbotstown officials would 'typically' pay clubs from their main account - the account with the overdraft facility which was the cause for concern that April. "It's our main account for paying any cash outgoings."

Mr Conway entered the exchange to say the FAI was there to talk about public funds and not Uefa money.

"Our arrangement with any creditors is not something we want to talk about here," said Mr Conway.

"I feel constrained in terms of what I can answer."

Irish Independent

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