Sunday 18 August 2019

'There is a perfectly legitimate explanation' - Delaney critic Rock sought tickets from FAI boss

Fine Gael TD Noel Rock (left) campaigning for the banning of touting
Photo: Doug O'Connor
Fine Gael TD Noel Rock (left) campaigning for the banning of touting Photo: Doug O'Connor
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

A TD who has been one of John Delaney’s fiercest critics previously sought the former FAI chief executive’s assistance to get tickets for Ireland football matches.

Internal FAI correspondence states Fine Gael TD Noel Rock texted Mr Delaney regarding match tickets in March and October 2017.

It also claims Mr Rock texted Mr Delaney in November last year saying he was “happy to push back against” a proposal from Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy for the then FAI chief executive to appear before the Oireachtas Transport, Tourism and Sport Committee.

Mr Rock is a member of the committee, which is set to question an FAI delegation, including Mr Delaney, on Wednesday about financial issues at the association.

The Dublin North West TD called for Mr Delaney to resign following revelations last month he gave a €100,000 “bridging loan” to the FAI in 2017 when it was experiencing cash flow issues. He also lodged an official complaint with the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement about the matter. Mr Delaney subsequently stood down as chief executive to take up the newly created role of executive vice president.

Independent.ie understands the text messages were detailed in a letter from Mr Delaney to the FAI’s interim chief executive Rea Walshe.

The FAI declined to respond to queries about the letter.

Details of the text messages emerged just weeks after Mr Rock issued a statement in which he said he neither sought nor received complimentary tickets directly from the FAI on any occasion.

Contacted by Independent.ie, Mr Rock confirmed he had received tickets from the FAI, but insisted he paid for these himself.

He insisted his previous statement was not misleading.

“There is a perfectly legitimate explanation for that. As I said in my statement, I never sought or received complimentary tickets,” he said.

In relation to the alleged text message regarding pushing back against a suggestion to call Mr Delaney before the committee, Mr Rock said: “I honestly don’t recall that.”

He also said he could find no record of any such text, iMessage or WhatsApp message.

Mr Rock said he had declared his receipt of tickets to the committee chairman and clerk on Tuesday.

In his declaration, Mr Rock said: “I have previously paid for tickets from the FAI - much like how many public representatives do with regard to tickets from the GAA, FAI, IRFU.

“These were neither corporate tickets nor complimentary on any occasion. I have never taken corporate nor complimentary tickets from the FAI, nor have I sought them.

“I do not believe that this has in any way clouded my view. I believe my record on this matter speaks for itself.”

In one apparently light-hearted text exchange in March 2017, Mr Delaney is said to have congratulated Mr Rock on his campaign to expose ticket touts.

Mr Rock is said to have responded that he would not be able to buy a pair of tickets from touts for two upcoming matches. Ireland were playing Wales and Iceland that week.

“If you hear anything, I’d appreciate it,” Mr Rock is said to have texted. Mr Delaney is said to have replied that if Mr Rock emailed him, he would “sort it”.

During another exchange in October 2017, ahead of Ireland’s two-leg World Cup play-off with Denmark the following month, Mr Rock is said to have asked Mr Delaney if he should give a named person “a shout” regarding tickets for the away leg.

Again Mr Delaney asked the TD to email him and said that he would sort it out.

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