No questions likely as John Delaney hosts the AGM of the FAI in Athlone

This gathering will be the Waterford man’s 10th as chief executive of the association – and he recently signed a new five-year deal

FAI CEO John Delaney with, from left, Donal Conway, FAI and chairman of the judging panel for the Aviva FAI Club of the Year, David Cummins, PRO Manor Rangers, Co Leitrim, and Mark Russell, Aviva. Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile

FAI CEO John Delaney with, from left, Donal Conway, FAI and chairman of the judging panel for the Aviva FAI Club of the Year, David Cummins, PRO Manor Rangers, Co Leitrim, and Mark Russell, Aviva. Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile

Sat, Jul 26, 2014, 10:00

The Irish branch of the “football family” will gather in Athlone this afternoon for the FAI’s AGM which will be John Delaney’s 10th as chief executive. Perhaps it was to mark the occasion that the organisation’s board “came to” him, as he put it last week, and asked him to stay on for another five years.

Delegates will no doubt see it as a positive development that its members feel confident enough about the future to commit €1.8 million of the association’s money to keeping him around.

Delaney gave an exclusive interview to The Sun to answer questions about the new deal.

Along with the usual stuff about turning down offers of higher-paid alternatives, the 46-year-old suggested, as he often does, that he is worth every penny. “It is a 24/7 job, weekends as well,” he said.

He doesn’t exactly have a reputation for heading home early but even if he was doing 70 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, his salary of around €360,000 works out at about one per cent of his employer’s turnover, or roughly €100 per hour.

A business

In his defence, Delaney cited the development of the association’s finances over the years.

“Go back to 1996,” he said, “the turnover of the FAI was about €7 million, last year it was €36 million, next year it will be close to €40 million. We have really driven the association forward as a business.”

Except, of course, you don’t have to go back to 1996. Delaney has been involved in the FAI for a long time and he had previously served as its treasurer. But it was late 2004 when he took over as its chief executive and that, his predecessors in his current role might contend, should be the more relevant starting point.

In his first full year in charge the association had a turnover of €23.7 million and this grew steadily, then rapidly, until it peaked at just over €50 million in 2009. The nature of the organisation’s funding means that making reliable year-on-year comparisons is difficult. There have been other good numbers but they require context. The 2012 figure, for example, would have been just over half the 2009 total if exceptional payments from Uefa were excluded.

The most recent figure, for 2013, is €36.6 million, which is slightly below the corresponding number for 2008.

Slightly higher

Delaney’s prediction for next year, by which time Uefa’s new centralised broadcast rights deal will have come into effect, is only slightly higher. And this with the benefit of a new stadium – once hailed as a cash cow for the association – now firmly up and running.

As it happens, the brightest news in this year’s accounts is the €11.7 million writedown on the organisation’s stadium-related debt. Delaney has described it as “a very good outcome for the association”.

But unless the FAI’s new bankers were simply feeling charitable, it’s a pretty damning verdict on earlier claims that the original repayment schedule was manageable.

“I think we’ve always made it clear that we have our finances in place and I don’t know anybody who has got into a stadium who didn’t have their finances in place,” said Delaney in March 2009 when announcing what was effectively a hefty discounting of the ill-fated Vantage Club 10-year ticket scheme that was originally supposed to provide the bulk of the required funding.

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