Wednesday 11 December 2019

Delaney on defensive over €400k pay packet

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

FAI chief executive John Delaney has defended his €400,000-a-year salary and claimed that the association's board were opposed to his decision to take a cut on the €450,000-a-year wage he was collecting two years ago.

Delaney was speaking at the FAI's annual general meeting in Ennis on Saturday, where he promised delegates that the association's substantial debt would be cleared by 2020.

Last year's accounts outlined bank debt of €63m and an overdraft of €4m. However, the Waterford man said that bank borrowings are now at €50m , responding "yes" when asked by media representatives if the other €13m had been cleared in the subsequent period.

There were no questions from the floor during the main meeting, with president Paddy McCaul bringing a swift end to proceedings after the official business was out of the way.

Afterwards, though, Delaney was placed on the defensive about his considerable pay packet even though he has taken a voluntary pay-cut of €50,000 over the past two years -- a drop of €17,500 in 2010 and another €32,500 this year.

He said that the other members of the FAI Board of Management were against a reduction in his salary.

"I'm not going to speak of the reasons," said Delaney, when it was put to him that he earns twice as much as the Taoiseach. "The board believes it's justifiable. I work very hard and deliver for the association to the best of my abilities. They (the board) didn't want to reduce my salary, which is something I voluntarily did last year and this year.

"It went from €450,000 to €431,000 and it will be around €400,000 now after the latest reduction," continued Delaney, who refused to disclose what portion of the figure relates to his pension contribution.

McCaul -- who signs off on the association's accounts -- later refused to offer his take on the Abbotstown finances, stating that he would leave the press handling of those matters to Delaney, who is very much the association's most prominent figure -- the chief executive managed to pop up on screen 60 times in a five-minute video which showed delegates the highlights of a week of activities in Clare.

Earlier, from the podium, McCaul was fulsome in his praise for Delaney, pointing out his success in the area of bringing in revenue from sponsorship, with the commercial portfolio accounting for two-thirds of the FAI's income.

"As CEO, John has an unrivalled track record of delivery for the FAI," said McCaul. "John's remuneration reflects his unrivalled record of achievement, his absolute and total commitment to every strand of our game, and his 24-seven, 365 days approach to the role of CEO.

"I am delighted that John has recently taken up the role as chairman of the Aviva Stadium board, and I wish him well in that."

The FAI recorded a surplus of €57,000 in 2010, with turnover at €39.5m. Flagging attendances at international games are a worry, with the focus now shifting from the failed Vantage Club project to selling season tickets for the general admission section. Thus far, there has been a positive reaction to reduced prices under that scheme, with 6,000 sold to date.

The overall financial picture was delivered by interim financial officer Padraic Smith, who admitted that challenging times could lie ahead over the next 18-24 months, but spoke positively of the long-term picture.

Smith, who also has a key role in monitoring the finances of League of Ireland clubs, announced that he would be leaving the FAI in October to take up the position of financial analysis manager at UEFA.

It means that, with Mark O'Leary having departed after the 2010 AGM, the FAI are looking for a new supremo in the financial department for the second time in the space of a year.

Delaney doesn't consider it a problem. "Padraic was appointed on an interim basis. He's an ambitious lad and, like any footballer, he wants to move and play for a bigger team. It's a great opportunity with UEFA. We are already in a recruitment process."

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