FAI’s John Delaney says top players’ wages are ‘outrageous’
Game in England is ‘suffering’ at club level because players are ‘overpaid’
FAI chief executive John Delaney: considers international football purer than club football. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho
FAI chief executive John Delaney has severely criticised the spiralling wages of top-level club footballers in England, and said Wayne Rooney’s reported £300,000 per week deal at Manchester United is “outrageous”.
He told a group of business people in Dublin yesterday that the game in England has “sold its soul” at club level because of the amounts paid to players.
Delaney, who has faced past criticism over his own salary and is currently paid 80 per cent more than the Taoiseach, was speaking at an event hosted by Investec bank at the Convention Centre in Dublin, where he was interviewed live by Miriam O’Callaghan.
When she asked him about Rooney’s new deal, he replied: “I think it’s crazy. He is paid nearly £16 million a year. His manager [David Moyes] is probably earning about a quarter of that, and he could lose his job if Rooney doesn’t perform.”
Delaney added: “The problem with the game in England is that all the money is going to players and agents. Then, if they’re not happy with the money they’re getting, the agents leak something to the newspapers.”
He said the game in England is “suffering” at club level because players are “overpaid”.
“It has meant that no youth is coming through. I think £300,000 per week is outrageous. How many times have we seen players kissing the badges on their jerseys and then looking for more money? The game has sold its soul at club level,” he said.
Delaney said that international football is “purer” than club football, because the players represent their country and are not “doing it for the money”.
Two pay cuts
The FAI chief executive is paid in the region of €360,000 annually. His pay peaked at about €431,000 in 2010 but he has since taken two pay cuts, reportedly of seven per cent and 10 per cent, as the FAI has sought to trim its cost base.
Delaney declined to answer questions on the recent refinancing of the association’s €60 million debts, which are mostly associated with its share of the cost of rebuilding Aviva stadium. He said the details of the transaction would be presented to FAI members at its AGM in the summer.
He reiterated that it is not certain that the association will meet its previously stated target of being debt free by 2020 because it may choose to invest in the game instead of just paying down debts.
“The question is do we actually want to be debt free by 2020? There are other things we could do with the money. The board will make that decision over the next few years,” he said.
He lauded the move towards centralised television rights controlled by Uefa for international football in Europe, and said it was worth €10 million a year to the FAI. Previously, television rights were negotiated by each individual association.
“Your income was dependent upon the draw you had for qualifiers, and that’s no way to run a business. If you drew Germany, you could get €5 million. But if you drew Croatia, you could get €50,000. I convinced Uefa that they should do all the television rights centrally,” he said.
Delaney said he expected the association’s income from television rights to continue to rise: “As long as the public wants to watch live sports, the income will go up. There must be a ceiling somewhere, but we haven’t hit it yet.”
Delaney was also asked about the decision to hire Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane as manager and assistant manager of the Ireland team, and joked that they are “still talking”.
In conjunction with their staff, he said, they have attended more than 60 club games in England in recent months to watch players: “It is not just Irish-born players they are scouting. They are also actively looking for players who might be eligible under the parentage rule.”