Thursday 23 May 2019

'Irish football jobs at risk due to Brexit' - John Delaney's letter to minister

Shane Ross with John Delaney
Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Shane Ross with John Delaney Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
John Delaney. Photo: Sportsfile
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Former FAI boss John Delaney raised fears about the impact Brexit will have on Irish football, including a cut in EU funding that he said has already occurred.

In a letter to Sport Minister Shane Ross, Mr Delaney also warned of a threat to Irish teenagers being able to play for British football clubs and asked that the Government consider the matter in Brexit negotiations.

The correspondence was in February, a month before it emerged that Mr Delaney had made a controversial €100,000 loan to the FAI in 2017 to help with a cash-flow issue.

Mr Delaney wrote to Mr Ross on February 13 this year.

He said in his letter: "The association has already lost funding for a very important initiative, 'More Than A Club'."

That scheme aims to help clubs in the development of social enterprise to help disadvantaged communities.

Mr Delaney said it was being run at Bohemians FC in Dublin as well as at Cork City FC, it was a joint initiative with Wales and was EU-funded.

He wrote: "As Wales are now leaving the EU, funding for this valuable project has been withdrawn." He added that this puts the project and four jobs it created "at risk" unless alternative funding can be found.

The Department of Transport said no offer of funding was made by ministers in response to the letter.

The FAI did not answer a question on how much funding had been provided for the initiative by the EU.

A spokesman said the 'More Than A Club' project is due to come to an end this summer.

"A small amount of funding has been secured to extend the programme for a short period of time, and all involved are aware of this," he added.

In the letter, Mr Delaney also raised concern about the ability of young Irish players to join professional clubs in the UK at the age of 16.

He said there is an exception in Fifa regulations which allows players within the EU or European Economic Area (EEA) to transfer to clubs within that territory subject to a number of conditions.

He said that due to the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, it is unclear what effect it would have on players who are currently in the UK and have not yet reached their 18th birthdays.

Mr Delaney asked the Government to consider the issue in Brexit negotiations.

Irish Independent

The Left Wing: Leinster's succession plan, Munster's missing piece and the art of contract negotiations

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport