Saturday 25 May 2019

Ewan MacKenna: 'This is just the end of the beginning for John Delaney, there's much more to come'

John Delaney. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
John Delaney. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Ewan MacKenna

Ewan MacKenna

The beginning of the end?

He wishes.

There are many who have long hoped for John Delaney's removal for a myriad of reasons from his running of the FAI to more personal issues around legal threats and the shit-on-his-shoe treatment over and over. But by now even the most vengeful are watching through fingers. This fall feels so hard and so fast that it's almost like kicking a man while he's down.

For Delaney this is merely the end of the beginning.

There's so much more to come.

There has to be for if pulling money out of a wall and living it up in luxury on trips to various parts of the globe comes out over just six months of his company credit card use, imagine 14 more years of transactions. As one person in the Dáil tells us, "There are tax implications, revenue are all over it, we know it's with the Office of Director of Corporate Enforcement. There are so many other agencies no one has considered yet and they are all going to look into this."

While some in the FAI had said his plan was to be sitting high in Lansdowne Road as it hosted games in the 2020 Euros before taking up a vice-presidency in Uefa, that is unlikely too. The European body have stayed quiet but those close to it in Switzerland have said they are biding their time and if investigations are in anyway bad, he's a no go.

Therefore don't think that his refusal to resign is some brazen attempt to see this out for that ship has sailed. Once all about public perception, the posts have shifted dramatically and this has become about the most basic form of self-preservation. From the throne to the kerb.

It's funny how the world works and how little we learn despite the loops and cycles. Back in 1996, Veronica Guerin broke a story about how during the 1990 and 1994 World Cups, Joe Delaney as treasurer of the FAI had been dealing and buying tickets from a London-based tout, George the Greek. It ended his career in the association but his son never learnt a lesson.  Ego never learns those lessons and this is a man who thought he was bullet proof. Consider that when he travelled, he used Platinum Services, which aren't exactly for the flimsily rich but for the genuinely wealthy.

That's the level his arrogance had taken him to. That's the sword he has fallen on.

'When my feet are back on solid ground and that island is many, many miles behind us, then you will see me smile,' Daedalus yelled back. 'Now, keep your mind on what we have to do and remember, not too high, not too close to the sun.'

In fact Delaney's own smokescreen is likely to cause him the most trouble. Having brought in Grant Thornton to look at the books via what some described as a "friendly audit" that allowed him to stonewall an Oireachtas committee, and having hired Mazars to look at how the association goes about its business to give the impression of taking this seriously, now imagine what will happen. Both of those companies cannot risk missing the finest detail in their work in case the other finds what they didn't or, worse again, Sport Ireland spots an omission. Their corporate reputations depend on getting this so right. That means it might take time as senior executives will be telling employees to take as long as they need but make sure it's flawless. Thus we need to have patience for the final result is inevitable.

What's been quite telling but under-analysed in what's come out and what will come out is the methodology behind all of this. A simple process of elimination means that the leaks are likely coming from one obvious person. Those who have previously left the association and moved into other positions have regularly carried their fair share of animosity and looked for revenge, but there's been a brutal strategy behind what we've been fed and constant returns to the well. Did the person go to the ODCE and hide behind the whistleblower act while sharing where the bodies are buried? Perhaps, but the digging has just begun and this is going to be a mass grave.

Speaking off the record, another person notes that it's worth thinking about sections of the running of the association such as jersey deals. They ask as an example if New Balance are nearly done, if a replacement deal has been signed, if that is the case was it paid for, and if so is that money still within an association that actually had the nerve by their own roundabout admission to spend Dundalk's European prize money? This gets serious quick.

Remember though that this is an opportunity that must be seized as well as Delaney isn't the only problem child in Irish football. Simply look at how many backed him and how many still back him. The board for instance are gone, and good riddance to a group that suffered from Stockholm Syndrome and couldn't even sit away from Delaney when they showed up in Leinster House, but they are a representation of so many loyalists all the way down the chain of command. Those same people will vote for what's next and it can't be more of the same or all of this will have been for so little. Delaney was a disease but also a symptom.

This is just the end of the beginning.

Online Editors

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