Thursday 22 August 2019

The four contenders vying for the FAI CEO hot-seat

Supporters have backed Noel Mooney. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Supporters have backed Noel Mooney. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Aidan Fitzmaurice

An FAI board meeting today will determine when, or how, John Delaney will cut his ties with the association as the Waterford man tries to hang on to his UEFA role.

But one thing we do know is that the FAI need to replace Delaney as Chief Executive, a job that’s been held by Delaney since 2004 and that appointment will shape the direction of the FAI for the next decade.

Niall Quinn has already ruled himself out of contention, saying over the weekend that there were “more people suited to that job than me”.

Stephen Hunt, writing about the post in the Sunday Independent, could possibly have been talking about himself when he said the new CEO “should be aged between 35 and 45 with experience of the game”, as ex-international Hunt is 37. So who is in contention to take over the job which Delaney has owned for so long?

Niall Quinn

A vocal figure on FAI matters long before the scandal over the €100,000 loan broke, Quinn (left) has vast experience of the governance side of football from his time as Sunderland chairman and he has good contacts in place already from his efforts to spearhead a change in the way the League of Ireland is run. And with his record as former international and Premier League player, a Quinn appointment would allow the FAI follow the example of having a prominent ex-player at the head of the FA, as is the case in Poland (Zbigniew Boniek), Croatia (Davor Suker) and Iceland (Gudni Bergsson).

Quinn has repeatedly ruled himself out of contention for the FAI role, due to the attached conditions where the FAI’s own job spec said that the new CEO and Delaney “would would need to work closely together in a collaborative manner”. That is likely to change given Delaney’s impending exit.

Rea Walshe

An FAI staff member since 2014, Walshe had not even started her new role as Chief Operating Officer before she was installed as interim CEO when Delaney quit that post. Giving the job to Walshe (left) would offer the FAI continuity, and the current board would value that but many within the ‘football family’ would demand a clean break with the current regime, and anyone attached to the FAI’s disastrous appearance at the Oireachtas committee last week will, unfortunately for them, be tainted by that display.

Peter Sherrard

The current CEO of the Olympic Council of Ireland, Sherrard has business experience from his time with Ryanair and having served in high-profile roles, as media and then logistics manager with the FAI, he already knows how the FAI works and would tick a lot of boxes. 

Noel Mooney

A former League of Ireland goalkeeper who worked with the FAI, Mooney moved to UEFA in 2012, where his current title is “Head of National Associations Business Development”.

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