Monday 19 March 2018

League of Ireland not developing fast enough - John Delaney

FAI chief John Delaney. Photo: Sportsfile
FAI chief John Delaney. Photo: Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

John Delaney has admitted that tangible results from the Conroy Report on the League of Ireland were slow in coming but he is hopeful that 'real progress' will be seen before the FAI's AGM takes place at the end of the month.

The FAI CEO was speaking at the National Sports Campus yesterday where Sport Ireland announced that €2.7 million of a €7.4m Investment in Youth Field Sports would go to the FAI.

Dundalk's Champions League qualifier wasn't televised last night, which on the face of it was a huge missed opportunity to showcase the domestic game.

Neither Martin O'Neill nor Roy Keane were in Oriel Park and although Delaney defended the Ireland management's absence, he acknowledged that the pace of the development of the league needs to be speeded up.

"It's (Conroy Report) not going at the pace that I would like. It's not, no," Delaney conceded.

"But still there are regular meetings between the clubs and the association. I'm due to sit down with Michael Cush (barrister) the week before the AGM and I think we'll see real progress after that meeting.

"Initially we said, 'Let's take our time to make sure everybody's on board', that rather than rushing the report, the recommendations when properly assessed do give a next step and a pathway for the League.

"The League matters, it's very important to the association and to me and it's hugely important to the progress of our game but there's a collectiveness about it."

Delaney did however insist that clubs needed to be more forthright.

"Sometimes I feel it's 'what are the FAI going to do' in a singular way. The Conroy Report very much outlines that there's a collectiveness above everybody involved in the game to bring the League to the next step.

"And I want the clubs, as well as the association, to take the next step together rather than relying on one individual partner just to do it.

"The aim would be to do that (revamp the League) but, again, we've asked the clubs to come back with their own recommendations as to what that would be.

"And that's why I'm looking forward to meeting Michael Cush next week because we'll be getting some of the views of the clubs in relation to that.

"My own view is that you would like to have a new structure next year but it's not something John Delaney is going to force through, it's something that the clubs have to step forward with us and agree that path with us."

Regarding Athlone Town and Waterford United's financial difficulties, Delaney is hopeful of coming to a solution as was the case with Galway United recently but he is also adamant that there is an onus on clubs to get their own house in order.

"I'm waiting on a report from Peter McLoone and Ned O'Connor (independent consultants) in terms of both Athlone and Waterford United and their particular situations," he said.

"The FAI can do so much and wants to take the next step with the clubs but when there are issues locally, when a chairman decides that he wants to leave a club and no longer fund the club, it's very difficult for the association to have to deal with that.

"But hopefully the findings from both those men (McLoone on Athlone, O'Connor on Waterford) show a pathway forward for both clubs. Like what I did in Galway a couple of years ago when we met all the different stakeholders and found a path for Galway football."

Although the FAI's own debt has been reduced to €40m, Delaney said he remains fully confident that it will be cleared by 2020.

Irish Independent

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