Sunday 19 November 2017

'They are inaccurate' - PFAI respond to John Delaney's 'surprised' and 'confused' comments

PFAI Solicitor Stuart Gilhooly, centre, speaks alongside Ollie Cahill, left, of PFAI, and Ethel Buckley, SIPTU Services Division, and Republic of Ireland Women's National Team players during a women's national team press conference at Liberty Hall in Dublin. Photo by Cody Glenn/Sportsfile
PFAI Solicitor Stuart Gilhooly, centre, speaks alongside Ollie Cahill, left, of PFAI, and Ethel Buckley, SIPTU Services Division, and Republic of Ireland Women's National Team players during a women's national team press conference at Liberty Hall in Dublin. Photo by Cody Glenn/Sportsfile

Jack O'Toole

The PFAI have challenged FAI CEO John Delaney over comments he made earlier on Sunday in a radio interview with Cork’s Red FM.

Delaney, who was elected to UEFA's executive committee in Helsinki on Wednesday, claimed that the FAI were “confused and surprised” about the women's team decision to hold a press conference in Liberty Hall on Tuesday.

Fourteen members of the women's squad had gathered last week at SIPTU’s headquarters to outline a litany of grievances they had with the FAI, but also to highlight the association’s point-blank refusal to deal with their representatives, the Players Football Association of Ireland (PFAI).

Delaney didn’t attend the negotiations as he chose to remain in Helsinki after the UEFA executive committee vote, but he told Cork’s Red FM on Sunday that the association were “confused and surprised” about the women's team's decision to hold a press conference given that both sides had allegedly already come to an agreement two days earlier on Sunday.

“There was the same result after the press conference," Delaney told Red FM.

"A lot of people in the FAI were really confused as to why the position we put to them (the players) on Sunday was accepted after the press conference. That was a surprise."

The PFAI responded on Sunday afternoon releasing a statement in which they said that Delaney's comments on Red FM were inaccurate.

"The PFA Ireland was surprised and disappointed to hear the comments today attributed to John Delaney. They are inaccurate," read the statement.

"We are conscious of the fact that the chief executive was out of the country on UEFA business when the dispute was at its most important stage and hence he may not be entirely familiar with the exact sequence of events. For this reason, we believe it is important to clarify these in order that no more confusion may arise.

"On Sunday last, the FAI sent the letter which has been widely circulated in which it made it clear that it would not agree to mediation which involved the PFA Ireland representing the players. No response to this letter had been sent by the players or their representatives when an email, in apparent contradiction to this letter was sent the following evening, Monday, in which the FAI confirmed that they were willing to enter into mediation to progress matters and said whoever represents the players was a matter for themselves.

"While this was well received by the players, despite the apparent volte face, they sought clarification of the position given the previous correspondence. They first suggested that settlement proposals be sent answering the issues which had been canvassed for nearly 12 months at this point. Clearly if these were acceptable, no mediation would be necessary. They then said that if these proposals were not acceptable that a mediation would need to take place on Wednesday 5 April, together with confirmation the PFA Ireland can represent the players, and be concluded by Thursday 5 April. Finally, the players asked for confirmation that they would not be penalised for their involvement in this process.

"They then said that unless these basic conditions were met, a press conference would be held. At no stage was the identity of the proposed mediator given to us and in fact we were not informed of his identity until the morning of Wednesday 5 April.

"The players fully expected agreement to these very reasonable points and were most surprised to receive a response which did not address them and merely expressed surprise at the calling of a press conference.

"For clarification, the press conference would not have proceeded had the FAI simply acceded to these conditions which they subsequently did the day after the press conference.

"This entire process would not have been necessary had the FAI engaged in a reasonable and sensible manner when the players concerns were first mooted.

"We would be hopeful that this has now clarified matters and the PFA Ireland can proceed with a mature, professional relationship with the FAI for all matters relating to the Woman's National Team and the League of Ireland."

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