Tuesday 13 November 2018

'There will be no compromise here' - John Delaney vows FAI will be debt-free by 2020

18 August 2018; John Delaney, CEO, Football Association of Ireland, left, and FAI President Tony Fitzgerald during the Football Association of Ireland Annual General Meeting at the Rochestown Park Hotel in Cork. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
18 August 2018; John Delaney, CEO, Football Association of Ireland, left, and FAI President Tony Fitzgerald during the Football Association of Ireland Annual General Meeting at the Rochestown Park Hotel in Cork. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

John Fallon

The FAI have promised members attending their annual general meeting in Cork today that they’ll be debt-free by 2020.

Over a two-and-a-half hour gathering the Rochestown Park Hotel, attended by 113 delegates, the association’s top brass vowed to clear their financial loans of €34m within the next two-and-a-half years without impairing investment in the game.

They also used the meeting to outline prices of a newly-launched 10-year premium tickets scheme, pitching the offering at a fee of €5,000.

Three-year tickets will be available at €2,000 and five-year equivalents at €3,000.

It contrasts sharply with the original package unveiled a decade ago, the source of the financial problems which have beset the football industry in Ireland since.

FAI chief executive John Delaney earlier this week finally admitted the pricing structure, which he boasted at the time would more than fund their €74m contribution to the stadium redevelopment costs, was excessive. Abysmal sales figures forced the FAI to instead acquire loans to pay for their share.

That current debt is broken down into €29.5 owed to Bank of Ireland and another €4m payable to UEFA.

"We are pleased to outline a clear position today that the board will continue the objective of being debt-free by end of 2020," said Delaney.

"There will be no compromise here. We can achieve this through both prudent financial operations and by continuing to invest into the game."

Billionaire businessman Denis O’Brien attended, becoming the first-ever Honorary President of the FAI.

Delaney and his colleagues thanked O’Brien for subsidising the salaries of the Ireland senior management team, a decade-long arrangement he ended earlier this year.

“The contribution of Denis made a major difference to our game,” said Delaney.

As had been customary in recent years since 2014, there were no questions from the floor.

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