John Delaney steps aside as FAI executive vice-president

Honorary secretary and honorary treasurer have both resigned from board voluntarily

John Delaney leaves the Carlton hotel near Dublin Airport on Monday after a meeting with the board of the FAI. Phototgraph: Colin Keegan/Collins

John Delaney leaves the Carlton hotel near Dublin Airport on Monday after a meeting with the board of the FAI. Phototgraph: Colin Keegan/Collins

 

Former FAI chief executive John Delaney has voluntarily stepped aside from his role as the organisation’s executive vice-president.

Controversy has surrounded Mr Delaney since The Sunday Times ran a story last month on the €100,000 cheque he wrote to the FAI in 2017.

The board of the FAI met in Dublin on Monday. Following that meeting, the sub-committee of the board met with Mr Delaney. Mr Delaney made no comment as he left the meeting earlier on Monday evening.

However, in a statement subsequently released by the FAI, the organisation said: “John Delaney has offered to voluntarily step aside from carrying out his role as Executive Vice-President with immediate effect pending the completion of an independent investigation by the Association into issues of concern to the Board.”

Honorary secretary Michael Cody and honorary treasurer Eddie Murray have both voluntarily resigned from the Board, the FAI also confirmed.

However, the chair of the parliamentary committee examining governance in the FAI has said the actions taken by the board on Monday did not go far enough and that the entire board should stand down.

Fine Gael’s Fergus O’Dowd, chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport, indicated the resignation of two veteran committee members and what he described as a temporary withdrawal from Mr Delaney would not appease concerns about its governance, or the reasons behind the unusual loan.

John Delaney refused to answer questions at an Oireachtas committee last week on legal advice. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins
John Delaney refused to answer questions at an Oireachtas committee last week on legal advice. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins

“The facts are that he should resign and they should all resign. I have no confidence in Mr Delaney and the corporate governance of the organisation. That situation remains,” Mr O’Dowd said.

He said the FAI had “lost the confidence of the Government and the State”. It needed a “root and branch” reform and a forensic audit, he added.

The FAI board in its statement thanked Mr Cody and Mr Murray “for their long service to Irish football and wish them well after their voluntary resignations”.

The statement said the meeting of the board also mandated a sub-committee, set up to review governance and recently publicised financial transactions, “to press ahead with their work as a matter of urgency”.

The FAI said it would update Sport Ireland on all developments ahead of the meeting of the Oireachtas Committee on Sport on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Sport Ireland will conduct an audit of the FAI before restoring grant payments after fresh concerns about governance at the association emerged following its controversial Oireachtas committee appearance last week.

In an opening statement to be delivered to the Oireachtas committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport on Tuesday, Sport Ireland CEO John Treacy will say the FAI’s lack of engagement at the committee was “very disappointing”.

He will also say the fact former chief executive John Delaney’s €100,000 loan to the FAI was not disclosed to the full board “is concerning from an internal financial control and general governance perspective”.

There is strong criticism in the statement of the FAI’s performance at the same committee last week.

“Sport Ireland had an expectation that the FAI would engage with this committee in an open and transparent manner on all relevant issues and answer the committee’s questions as directly and straightforwardly as possible.

“The FAI delegation chose not to answer important questions, which was very disappointing”.

Mr Treacy will say that new information which came to light during the hearing was “concerning”, especially relating to the need for Mr Delaney to lend the organisation €100,000.

“Sport Ireland is also very concerned about the FAI’s adherence to appropriate internal financial and management control procedures during the period.”

Former FAI chief executive John Delaney pictured last week. Photograph: Laura Hutton
Former FAI chief executive John Delaney pictured last week. Photograph: Laura Hutton

Mr Treacy will detail an audit to be undertaken of the FAI’s governance and financial control before funding from Sport Ireland is restored.

Due to the breach of Sport Ireland’s conditions of funding, he will say that the audit will be “as broad and extensive as necessary to satisfy Sport Ireland that the FAI is compliant with our terms and conditions of grant approval, including that its internal financial controls and management, as well as its general governance, are of sufficient standard in order to restore funding”.

However, committee members have expressed a concern over the extent of the audit, saying it may not go far enough. Fine Gael TD Noel Rock said: “One aspect that stands out is that the audit is of controls, not spending; it’s a subtle but important point, and means it won’t go into accounts or financial detail. In my view, this falls short of what is necessary.”

Mr Treacy will also outline a series of further steps that will be needed in order for funding to be restored, including a liaison process to monitor implementation of the audit’s recommendations.

Sport Ireland will also monitor what it describes as “important steps” in addressing “governance and financial issues” before restoring funding. This will include the review and adoption of the recommendations arising from the two external reviews commissioned by the FAI from consultants Grant Thornton and Mazars.

Mr Treacy will also say that he has accepted the FAI’s offer for Sport Ireland to play a role in deciding the composition of its governance review group. This group will have a majority of external members, and Sport Ireland has already identified a potential candidate. That candidate may be approved as soon as Monday.