Monday 22 April 2019

Key questions remain to be answered after weekend of FAI boardroom bombshells


John Delaney. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
John Delaney. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

There are many questions that arise following the dramatic series of events over the weekend, but not everyone has the answers. After the match, the FAI released a 1,883-word missive which made no reference to the bridging loan but said the association were acting on the recommendations of an external review by putting new structures in place, with Delaney moving from chief executive to executive vice-president with Rea Walshe appointed as interim CEO.

What does an executive vice-president do, who do they report to, and do they have more power than a CEO?

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The FAI statement says it's a "specific defined role with responsibility for a range of international matters and special projects on behalf of the FAI".

It adds that the new CEO would be responsible for 'all the other issues' typically overseen by a CEO.

Both the CEO and Delaney will attend board meetings, but would not be members of the board.

We can only speculate on what power Delaney will have in the new situation but the fact he can attend board meetings - even if he's not counted as a sitting member of the board - means he will likely still be present when all important decisions are made.

Is there a specific term of contract and salary?

It's understood that Delaney's new FAI wage will be in the region of €120,000 per year. There are no indications on the length of his contract, or clarity on whether the FAI will be paying his rent. Delaney will still get a six-figure sum from UEFA for his work with them.

Who came up with the idea and who gave it the green light?

The FAI statement suggests it was a board decision to pursue the external review and their decision to implement it. Delaney may not be counted as a member of the board in his new role, but he was a member of the board when this idea was adopted.

What will it mean for his UEFA role?

A condition for seeking re-election to the UEFA executive committee is holding an active office with your member association. The UEFA website lists titles that meet the criteria - they are president, vice- president, general secretary or CEO.

Will the new CEO have the same salary as the outgoing one?

We don't know, but it is unlikely. Otherwise, the new structure would cost the FAI an extra €120,000 a year.

Will John Delaney vacate the CEO office in Abbotstown for his successor?

We will soon find out, but Delaney will need a new parking space.

Who is Rea Walshe?

The law graduate from UCC previously worked with Liberty Insurance. She joined the FAI in 2014 and her main task has been as Corporate Affairs and Licensing Director. In February, it was announced she would be taking over as Chief Operating Officer at the beginning of April.

Why implement these changes now and announce it an hour after a Euro 2020 qualifier finishes?

It's a strange one alright. In the tight confines of the Victoria Stadium, all eyes were on Delaney and he left his seat on several occasions to take or make phone calls.

The FAI say that Jonathan Hall and Associates - the company which carried out the external review - were commissioned in February and finished their work in recent weeks.

A board meeting on Friday gave the green light to these changes. We do have a recent example of an FAI board summit taking place on the day before an away international. At Mick McCarthy's unveiling, Delaney confirmed that the decision to seek a change of senior team manager was made on the eve of last November's clash between Ireland and Denmark.

Who are the existing members of the FAI board?

Delaney sat on a 11-member board. Hon treasurer Eddie Murray, hon secretary Michael Cody and committee heads Páraic Treanor (Legal & Corporate Affairs) and Jim McConnell (Domestic) were on the board in 2005 when the Delaney era really took flight. So too was current president Donal Conway, who previously served as chairman of the Underage Committee before moving up the ranks. National League executive Eamon Naughton was on board by 2007.

Committee heads Mick Hanley (international), John Earley (underage) and Noel Fitzroy (vice-president) have graduated in recent years due to changes brought about either by promotions via the presidential chain or the death of existing board members. In 2017, the board was extended by 10 to 11 as Niamh O'Donoghue became the first women's football representative.

Who are the likely candidates to become CEO?

Former Cork City goalkeeper Noel Mooney worked with the FAI before graduating to UEFA where he is a Head of the National Associations' Business Development. By coincidence, Mooney was in Gibraltar on Saturday. His name has been floated as a candidate.

Former FAI executive and current Tennis Ireland CEO Richard Fahey is another possible. Interim appointment Walshe will be a leading contender. Niall Quinn is not thought to be interested in the current set-up, but the role should attract interest from outside candidates who have operated outside the Irish football bubble.

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