'The FAI are doing a very good job' - The words of Minister Shane Ross just six months ago as he completes u-turn
Minister for Sport Shane Ross appears to have had a dramatic change of tune in his opinion of John Delaney and the Football Association of Ireland, just a few months after suggesting most who work in Irish soccer believed the organisation was "doing a very good job".
Ross served up a damning critique of the FAI his Sunday Independent column last weekend, as he suggested the temporary appointment of Noel Mooney to fill the role vacated by John Delaney was "a backward step".
"Last week the caretaker board decided to do more than care-take. It appointed a man called Noel Mooney to take the reins for a 'temporary' six-month period. It did this in the face of the opposition of not only Sport Ireland, but also the Government," stated Ross.
"In recent days, it has been desperately trying to spin this retrograde appointment to the media as a prudent development. Public confidence in the FAI, already at its lowest ebb, will now hit rock bottom.
"The decision to install Mooney was a backwards step. The Irish people have a right to know why the top brass of the FAI chose him to take the role of general manager (chief executive by another name).
"Equally, they have the right to know why we objected in no uncertain terms in a tense, face-to-face meeting with the FAI," added Ross, who hosts a 'stakeholders' forum in Dublin on Friday.
Those words offer a contrast to the views of Ross just six months ago, as he praised the FAI and Delaney for their work and suggested the media were wrong to criticise the governing body for Irish soccer.
"My own experience on the ground, weekly experience on the weekends, is that the fans are very enthusiastic about what the FAI are doing. They think the FAI are doing a very good job," said Ross.
"I don't hear people giving out, I read about it in the press alright. There's a lot of criticism about John Delaney, my own experience is that when I go to these local games in the constituency on the ground, is that I see John Delaney and representatives of the FAI all the time.
"They're always on the ground doing things, relating to those really important things that young people are doing."