Varadkar does not think Delaney should step aside as reported loan to FAI is investigated

Taoiseach says reported €100,000 loan ‘does seem a bit unusual’

Video grab of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaking at Government Buildings in Dublin on Wednesday. Photograph: Michelle Devane/PA Wire

Video grab of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaking at Government Buildings in Dublin on Wednesday. Photograph: Michelle Devane/PA Wire

 

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has described the reported €100,000 loan from FAI chief executive John Delaney to the organisation as “unusual.”

Sport Ireland has written to the FAI in an effort to obtain an explanation for the circumstances in which Mr Delaney is said to have loaned the organisation the money, the Irish Times reported on Tuesday.

Questioned about the matter on Wednesday, Mr Varadkar said: “That of course is a matter for the FAI, which is an independent body and has its own board.

“It does seem a bit unusual, a body of that size, given its operations and the funding it receives, I would have thought has banking facilities that would have have provided for a loan, and I know that Sport Ireland and the joint committee of the Oireachtas will want to ask some questions as to why that came about.”

When asked by reporters if Mr Delaney should step aside while the matter is investigated, Mr Varadkar said: “No, not in my own view, but that would not be a matter for me, that is a matter for the FAI board.”

In a brief statement on Tuesday evening, Sport Ireland confirmed that it had been in contact with the association and clearly suggested that if the FAI, or any governing body, required a loan of the type required, then it was entitled to be informed under the terms of the grants its pays out to governing bodies.

“Sport Ireland has written to the President of the Football Association of Ireland seeking urgent clarification from the Board of the FAI on media reports concerning a loan to the organisation by its chief executive, including the circumstances of the loan and its repayment,” is said in its statement.

“Sport Ireland was not notified at any stage in 2017 about any apparent material deterioration in the FAI’s financial position, as per Sport Ireland’s terms and conditions of grant approval, and has sought additional clarification in relation to this matter.”

As reported in The Irish Times on Monday, governance experts have expressed the firm opinion that the FAI should have published details of any loan such as the one it is suggested that John Delaney made to it in April of 2017 in its annual accounts. This did not happen.

News of the transaction emerged at the weekend when The Sunday Times published details of a cheque for €100,000 given by Delaney to his employers. The association’s chief executive failed in an attempt on Saturday night to obtain an injunction preventing publication of the story.

Subsequently, the FAI issued a number of statements which took the line that the money had been a loan to tide it over a difficult time and that it had been repaid two months later. Though he is quoted in the statements, Delaney has not answered questions about the matter from anyone outside the organisation directly.

It remains unclear as to why an organisation that turned over almost €50 million during the year in question and started that year with almost €1 million in the bank would be obliged to turn to its chief executive within four months when it had more obvious sources of a short term loan, not least its banks.

The association, in any case, acknowledged receipt of the Sports Council letter on Tuesday evening in another statement. “The Football Association of Ireland has this evening received correspondence from Sport Ireland CEO John Treacy on behalf of Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross,” it said.

“The Association are currently preparing a reply to Mr Treacy and will respond at the earliest opportunity.”

Members of the association’s Council, the larger body with a larger, more representative membership than the board are expected to get their chance to ask questions about the entire affair on April 9th with a meeting having been announced for that date.Sport Ireland has written the FAI in an effort to obtain an explanation for the circumstances in which its chief executive is said to have loaned the organisation €100,000.

In a brief statement on Tuesday evening, Sport Ireland confirmed that it had been in contact with the association and clearly suggested that if the FAI, or any governing body, required a loan of the type required, then it was entitled to be informed under the terms of the grants its pays out to governing bodies.

“Sport Ireland has written to the President of the Football Association of Ireland seeking urgent clarification from the Board of the FAI on media reports concerning a loan to the organisation by its chief executive, including the circumstances of the loan and its repayment,” is said in its statement.

“Sport Ireland was not notified at any stage in 2017 about any apparent material deterioration in the FAI’s financial position, as per Sport Ireland’s terms and conditions of grant approval, and has sought additional clarification in relation to this matter.”

As reported in The Irish Times on Monday, governance experts have expressed the firm opinion that the FAI should have published details of any loan such as the one it is suggested that John Delaney made to it in April of 2017 in its annual accounts. This did not happen.

News of the transaction emerged at the weekend when The Sunday Times published details of a cheque for €100,000 given by Delaney to his employers. The association’s chief executive failed in an attempt on Saturday night to obtain an injunction preventing publication of the story.

Subsequently, the FAI issued a number of statements which took the line that the money had been a loan to tide it over a difficult time and that it had been repaid two months later. Though he is quoted in the statements, Delaney has not answered questions about the matter from anyone outside the organisation directly.

It remains unclear as to why an organisation that turned over almost €50 million during the year in question and started that year with almost €1 million in the bank would be obliged to turn to its chief executive within four months when it had more obvious sources of a short term loan, not least its banks.

The association, in any case, acknowledged receipt of the Sports Council letter on Tuesday evening in another statement. “The Football Association of Ireland has this evening received correspondence from Sport Ireland CEO John Treacy on behalf of Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross,” it said.

“The Association are currently preparing a reply to Mr Treacy and will respond at the earliest opportunity.”

Members of the association’s Council, the larger body with a larger, more representative membership than the board are expected to get their chance to ask questions about the entire affair on April 9th with a meeting having been announced for that date.