John Delaney - used to be the treasurer but he's in charge now
EURO 2012:A DECADE ago, when the bullets were flying around the FAI over the Saipan affair, one of the criticisms levelled at Brendan Menton was that he had demeaned the status of the position of association chief executive by showing up to team training in shorts. Given the photographs and video of John Delaney out socialising in Poland over the last few weeks, it seems a more laughable complaint than ever now.
Delaney, who was treasurer of the association in 2002, played a key role in the departure of both Menton and, subsequently, Fran Rooney and has won just about every internal battle he has fought since.
The upshot is that he is widely considered to be untouchable within the organisation; an attitude he would appear to share himself if the many images of his nights out that have appeared in newspapers or on various social media platforms over the last week or two are anything to go by.
Technically, of course, he is an employee of the association and answerable to his board.
But those who have publicly stood up to him in the past have tended to leave the organisation not long afterwards and, if it would be unfair to describe the current members as “yes men”, then it is certainly hard to recall any significant issues on which they have said no to him in recent times.
His job brings with it a salary/package worth just over €400,000 – that’s about three times what Menton was paid for performing the same role a decade ago and four times what a League of Ireland team will receive for winning the title this year.
The biggest part of the salary hike occurred during Rooney’s time at the association, with the former Baltimore Technologies man demanding to be paid what he reckoned he was worth.
Even at a time that many others within the organisation had concluded that the appointment of Rooney had been an error, Delaney told The Irish Times that he believed Rooney’s demands should be met.
In time, Rooney did get most of what he wanted but as he was forced out of the job soon afterwards it was to be Delaney who ultimately benefited.
As rivals departed one after the other, power appeared to become more and more centralised within the association, with Delaney coming to wield almost all of it. Many, though certainly not all, grumbled in private but given the central importance of the association in making or obtaining grants for clubs and leagues, none wanted to be identified as an opponent.
And during the boom the amount of money that flooded into the association from the public and private sectors meant Delaney came to be regarded by many, not least himself, as a tremendous success. On one of the many occasions he has been asked what is it he does that merits him being paid more than the Taoiseach, he said he “delivers” for the association.
Now, however, the association in struggling under the weight of the huge debt it incurred for its part of the Lansdowne Road redevelopment. The association’s plan, championed by Delaney, was that the money, around €70 million, would be paid through the sale of premium seats but the pricing and timing of the scheme was spectacularly misjudged, with the result that the finances of the organisation were plunged into crisis.