Wednesday 21 August 2019

FAI President Donal Conway: 'There was no contract between Association and John Delaney over €100k bridging loan'

  • John Delaney and FAI face Oireachtas Committee at 10am
  • Delaney has been asked to clarify €100k 'bridging loan' to FAI in 2017
  • Sport Ireland yesterday suspended funding to FAI
  • Delaney resigned as CEO of the FAI last month but is now Executive Vice President of the association
  • There have been widespread calls for Delaney to step down
FAI Exec Vice President John Delaney pictured with Rea Walshe, Chief Exec FAI and Donal Conway, Hon Treasurer, FAI,as they arrived at Leinster House
Pic: Frank McGrath
FAI Exec Vice President John Delaney pictured with Rea Walshe, Chief Exec FAI and Donal Conway, Hon Treasurer, FAI,as they arrived at Leinster House Pic: Frank McGrath
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

FORMER Football Association of Ireland (FAI) chief executive John Delaney provided €100,000 to the organisation due to concern over a possible cashflow issue in 2017, TDs have been told.

FAI president Donal Conway told the Oireachtas Sport Committee that there had been a concern that if all cheques that had been issued by the Association at the end of April year were cashed at the same time, there was a likelihood of insufficient funds being available to cover all the cheques issued.

He said this was a short-term issue as there was an expectation of funds coming to the Association from tickets sales, sponsorship and other sources.

He said: "The CEO provided the Association with a personal cheque for €100,000 and thereby made funds available to provide some immediate financial relief."

Mr Conway said that the following day, Wednesday April 26 2017, a request was received by email from a creditor who was entitled to draw down funds from the Association.

"The financial director made contact with the chief executive officer via email proposing to lodge cheque for €100,000 to the Association's bank account in order to honour the request for draw down from the particular creditor.

"The board acknowledged that the circumstances of the above €100,000 transaction was exceptional and the repayment was subsequently made by the Association on the 16 of June 2017 to the then chief executive officer."

He added: "No contract or agreement was entered into between the Association and its then-chief executive officer.

"And further no interest and/or charges have been levied or paid by Association in respect of the transaction."

He said: "The board having been informed of the €100,000 payment further acknowledged that disclosure would be made in the necessary financial statements in accordance with the required accounting treatment and requirements of the Companies Act.

"The Association has since embarked on a review of its internal control processes and procedures in order to ensure that a situation of this nature could will not arise again," Mr Conway added.

Representatives of the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) – including former chief executive John Delaney - are in Leinster House today where they're to be grilled by TDs on the organisations finances and governance.

The meeting of the Oireachtas Sport Committee comes after weeks of controversy following revelations about a €100,000 payment made by Mr Delaney to the Association in April 2017.

The money was paid back to Mr Delaney two months later and the FAI described it as a "bridging loan" to address a cash-flow issue.

The payment was not notified to Sport Ireland, nor was any "deterioration" in the FAI's finances as is required under funding rules.

Sport Ireland yesterday moved to "suspend and withhold future funding" from the FAI as questions continue to swirl around the €100,000 payment.

It has already paid out 50pc of an estimated €2.9m in funding to the Association this year and said it will consider lifting the suspension when all reviews into the FAI are complete.

Accountancy firm Mazars has been contracted by the FAI to carry out a review and Grant Thornton is also reviewing the organisation's ledgers and records.

Last night the FAI expressed disappointment with the Sport Ireland decision on funding.

FAI president Donal Conway said the organisation is  keen to restore confidence and rebuild its relationship with Sport Ireland.

He said he was "fully confident" that through the processes in place the FAI would be able to satisfy Sport Ireland on governance and finance issues to ensure that funding can be restored.

Mr Conway concluded his opening statement by saying that despite success on the pitch, the past few weeks has undoubtedly been a difficult time for Irish football and the FAI.

He said he hopes the processes the organisation is putting in place will help restore faith in the Association.

Committee chariman Fergus O'Dowd asked Mr Conway if the statement he made about the €100,000 transaction was from work carried out by consultancy firm Grant Thornton which is examining the FAI's records.

Mr Conway said the account he gave of the payment to the committee was "verified" by Grant Thornton.

Mr O'Dowd asked if Grant Thornton's full report would be provided to the Committee and Mr Conway said: "Not at this stage".

The Fine Gael TD said that when evidence is introduced at the committee it's "hugely important" to "back up what you're saying" with the full report.

The committee adjourned for 20 minutes as an opening statement from Mr Delaney - now the FAI's executive vice president - was circulated to TDs.

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