FAI faces questions over Delaney loan at Oireachtas meeting

Social Democrats’ Catherine Murphy says she will raise allegations with FAI chief

Fianna Fáil sport spokesman Robert Troy said John  Delaney must ‘be ready’ to answer questions about the loan. Photograph:  ©INPHO/ Ryan Byrne

Fianna Fáil sport spokesman Robert Troy said John Delaney must ‘be ready’ to answer questions about the loan. Photograph: ©INPHO/ Ryan Byrne

 

Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy has said she will raise allegations she has received with the Football Association of Ireland’s (FAI’s) chief executive in public next month.

The FAI is set to be asked in more detail about a €100,000 loan it received from its chief executive, John Delaney, when it appears in front of the Oireachtas committee on sport on April 10th.

The Kildare North TD said she had been contacted by different people several times in recent months with allegations about the organisation.

“I’m actually surprised at the number of people who have contacted me with things they are concerned about related to the FAI,” she said. “It’s not exclusively financial, some of it relates to governance issues.”

She also said there was a “reluctance to answer questions” at the FAI.

Among the organisations to have contacted the Oireachtas committee in recent months is the representative body for professional players in the State, PFA Ireland. In January, it wrote to committee chairman Fergus O’Dowd and member Noel Rock requesting a meeting in advance of Mr Delaney’s appearance at the committee in April.

The letter sent by HJ Ward solicitors, on behalf of PFA Ireland, stated it wanted a meeting to “discuss the FAI and their handling of certain issues”.

“We have concerns over the manner in which the organisation is run and engagement with stakeholders, most particularly the most important constituency – the players,” the organisation wrote.

Difficult relationship

PFA Ireland and the FAI have endured a difficult relationship in recent years, with disputes between them over fees paid to the women’s national team, collective bargaining, and a fund for looking after unpaid Irish footballers.

Mr O’Dowd has requested written details on the matters raised in the PFA Ireland letter, in addition to supporting evidence and documentation. It is understood that the group is considering its response.

Mr O’Dowd said he expected a “fair, open, transparent discussion” when Mr Delaney and his management team appear at the committee next month.

Fianna Fáil sport spokesman Robert Troy, who is also on the committee, said Mr Delaney must “be ready” to answer questions about the loan.

An FAI spokesman said: “The FAI is currently undertaking a full review of its executive governance and senior management structures.

“This review will be completed and all actions approved by early April when a full press conference will be held to reveal all outcomes.

“In the meantime, the association reiterates that the bridging loan was made in the best interests of the FAI in 2017 when it experienced a short-term cash flow issue.

“The Board of the FAI has been kept fully informed in relation to this matter at all times.”

A spokeswoman for the FAI’s auditors, Deloitte, said the firm did not comment on individual client matters.