Friday 15 December 2017

John Delaney insists new UEFA role won't affect FAI duties

John Delaney in Helsinki during the during the 41st Ordinary UEFA Congress. Photo: Harold Cunningham - UEFA/UEFA via Sportsfile
John Delaney in Helsinki during the during the 41st Ordinary UEFA Congress. Photo: Harold Cunningham - UEFA/UEFA via Sportsfile

John Fallon

While plaudits have been scarce for John Delaney on the home front in recent days, the FAI chief executive was basking in the glow of his elevation to UEFA's executive committee in Helsinki yesterday.

Delaney will serve a four-year term as one of the 10 committee members beneath five vice-presidents and Aleksander Ceferin, the Slovenian drafted in last year to replace Michel Platini as president in the aftermath of his suspension from the game by FIFA.

Although the new role places significant time demands on a man never slow to trumpet his dedication to the full-time position in Ireland, the rewards are equally voluminous.

His already bloated salary of €360,000 will receive a top-up of another €100,000 accompanied by generous expenses, daily allowance of €300 and pension rights for his tenure with the European governing body.

Perhaps it was Delaney's display of leg-work in the last eight weeks which convinced 48 of the 55 affiliates to vote in his favour yesterday.

He didn't waste any time following his nomination to fill the eight vacancies to traverse the continent on a canvassing spree, starting in northern Europe before steadily charming other federations with his manifesto.

It worked a treat as, flanked by a pair of septuagenarians who benefited from the FAI raising the age limits at which their officers could remain at the helm, president Tony Fitzgerald and secretary Michael Cody, he romped home with the second-highest haul of the 11 nominees.

In a rare media soundbite from Delaney yesterday, albeit low on specifics, he denied that the responsibilities of his new venture will diminish his ability to fulfil those vital FAI duties he's juggled for the past 12 years.

"I'll reflect on that in terms of what it means for Irish football," he told RTÉ Sport. "I hope it can make Irish football and European football stronger but it certainly won't deter me in any part of my FAI role."

Another of the successful candidates, Polish president Zbigniew Boniek, was candid. Unlike his former Juventus team-mate Platini, 'Zibi' is not renowned for his diplomacy and provided an insight as to the perks the blazers can indulge in.

Head of the Polish Football Association Zbigniew Boniek. Photo: Lukasz Laskowski / PressFocus/MB Media
Head of the Polish Football Association Zbigniew Boniek. Photo: Lukasz Laskowski / PressFocus/MB Media

"It's more about me than the prestige of Polish football," he revealed recently. "It is a bit of vanity and more about convenience. If I want to go to watch Real Madrid against Bayern Munich in the Champions League, I can get the aeroplane, hotel and match tickets arranged."

Whatever of the personal gains involved, Irish football could certainly do with profiting by Delaney following in the footsteps of Des Casey in representing the country at executive level.

It was the government-backed redeveloped Lansdowne Road, rather than the FAI itself, which won the right to host the 2011 Europa League final in Dublin and, apart from a Regions Cup tournament in 2015, the association has not hosted a UEFA tournament, men's or women's, since Delaney came to power in 2005.

They have finally been granted the U-17 Euro finals in 2019 but Northern Ireland will by then have hosted the U-19 equivalent for both genders, while the likes of Estonia and Lithuania were also given home advantage during the same period.

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