Bohemians' plight makes joke of Delaney salary


Hold the back page:SOME PEOPLE believe the FAI has been run along the same lines that the Government has run Ireland Inc. Some believe there are clowns at the FAI helm and some don’t.

A recent report on RTÉ radio that FAI chief executive John Delaney earns over €400,000 a year would have people believing the salary is in keeping with some aspects of Irish political life, where there are delusional levels of self-worth.

The stock defence of all high earners on comical salaries is that, amazingly, it’s the one thing for which they are not responsible.

One man doesn’t run the FAI. There are committees, rules, boards. The tried and trusted phrases from the banks and Leinster House are, “run on democratic lines” and “current market value”.

Take your pick.

Take them both.

Delaney may deserve his “shag off” money more than Taoiseach Brian Cowen does his, the latter having to slum it on €257,000. But should the head of footy in the 26 counties (we’re blessed with two governing bodies) be paid more than US president Barack Obama, who is on $400,000 – don’t bother converting the dollars, the most powerful man on earth earns less.

This week’s news that Bohemians are considering what players to flog to service a debt of around €400,000 has little to do with what the FAI decide to pay their CEO, and possibly IRFU chief Philip Browne and Gaelic Games president Christy Cooney, may feel saddened to realise that their employers do observe some decorum when it comes to disbursing club affiliation fees.

There is now a feeling of jaw-dropping numbness that was once anger but has been weathered over the years by the avalanche of jacked-up pay packets.

People have been left concussed.

When the head of a small football federation on the western edge of Europe can command 13 times the average industrial wage of that country, we say respect.

That doesn’t soften the sense of embarrassment in the Irish football system that has legitimately handed over the money or the sense of outrage that, when they get over picking over the bones of dying clubs, will continue.

Easier for PGA to keep head buried in the sand

LAST WEEK’S ruling at Whistling Straits, where a professional golfer found himself in a bunker but didn’t realise it, highlighted the arcane rules as well as the sport’s desire to uphold regulations for the common good even if Dustin Johnson’s PGA Championship hopes had to perish. You wonder that if beneath it all the golf edifice is creaky.

A sport where even venial sins are harshly punished seems cruel and golf in its zeal to be seen as pure and spotless as its founding fathers would have wished is in danger of becoming so earnest as to be fundamentalist.

And we all know about Jimmy Swaggart.

Sadly, nor can the pampered golfing boys on the tour keep on message and when it comes to breaking local rules that govern their personal, if not always private lives, they are just as hapless as any Chelsea footballer.

It also seems that Old Testament-style justice isn’t always fair either, as John Daly would argue.

Last year Daly, who amongst several things drove his golf ball off an empty beer can at a pro-am event, was arrested drunk outside a Hooters restaurant and became an internet sensation when he was photographed in an orange jumpsuit while in police custody.

For an array of public misdemeanours Daly was asked by the PGA in 2009 not to play in their competitions for six months.

As we know the PGA didn’t ask Tiger Woods to kindly go away so that their image would remain untarnished.

Instead they charitably helped to orchestrate a typically biblical return where his sack-cloth and ashes confession in front of a congregation that included his mother and handlers became a spectator event.

Predator Tiger seemed to pull it off while the alternately shrinking and expanding Daly had a gastric band inserted.

In an unfair golfing world, the next two weeks may also be a test of patience for Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie when it comes to making his difficult team picks and managing the players.

Monty, who in 2005 had to face the outrageous accusation that he may have placed his ball in an advantageous position during the Indonesian Open, has been dodging questions lately.

“Mrs Doubtfire” was reported to have had an affair earlier this year with an old girlfriend and was subject to further sniggering last week after more stories about his private life circulated prior to the US PGA Championship.

His Ryder Cup vice-captain, Thomas Bjorn, is reported to have fathered a daughter with an Australian air-stewardess.

Bjorn has been married since 1998 and has three children by that marriage. The five-year affair ended in December last year when Dagmara Leniartek (33), informed Bjorn that she was pregnant with his baby, according to reports in the Danish media.

Bjorn denied he was the father, but other reports said that DNA tests proved otherwise.

Fame has never been so readily available to so many and probably never more difficult to deal with. But you could argue that the self-confessed red-neck Daly did no more than more articulate sinners to nudge the game towards seedy disrepute.

A drunken golfer from the wrong side of the tracks is an easier target than moneyed privilege doing what privilege often does.

Then again, perhaps the PGA in their sobriety and righteousness is correct.

Grounding a club in sand or making oneself a drunken spectacle is infinitely more important to the game than the latest celebrity affair.

US captain Corey Pavin will illustrate just that when he picks Grrrrr Tiger for the Celtic Manor Ryder Cup showdown.

Leinster stadium decision to test league

LEINSTER’S DECISION to roll open the doors of Aviva Stadium to supporters for their Magners League match against Munster at the beginning of October will be a test of brand loyalty and perhaps a barometer of our current financial mess.

Despite the last three years of packed-lunch austerity both provinces have shirked the general downward trends.

They have remained strong on the pitch and have grown fan allegiance, which has ensured at least two Irish provincial teams can remain high spec in an increasingly competitive European arena.

We sometimes forget just how rugby has been embraced in various pockets around Ireland and even looking at the third tier competition after Six Nations Championship and Heineken Cup, the Magners League has mushroomed and it is the Irish teams that are raising the bar and keeping the average attendances so high as to kink the scores.

Last season the average attendance for Magners matches was just over 8,000.

But table-topping Munster with an average attendance of 18,620 and second-placed Leinster with a 15,468 average were in the order of around 5,000 tickets more than all the other clubs and twice that of most of the others.

Munster’s experience has been that fans responded well to Thomond Park’s increased capacity.

As recently as five years ago Ulster was the biggest Irish attraction and averaged 9,182 fans to their Ravenhill games.

Munster had the fourth highest average behind Ulster, Ospreys and Cardiff Blues with 6,890 and Leinster sixth with just over 5,000.

The availability of Aviva Stadium this season for the first time since the old Lansdowne Road was demolished allows Leinster to drive up their figures if fans are game.

On the back of Leinster’s Heineken Cup success, The RDS last year was often full and over subscribed.

And while the Aviva Stadium’s 50,000 capacity will be a challenge, the historical context of the match and what has gone before should allay anxieties. Remember a world record 82,208 turned out to watch a Heineken Cup semi-final at Croke Park between the two sides . . . or was that all just a dream?

Capello gets Beckham call all wrong

FINALSTRAW: IT seems ironic that it was David Beckham who England manager Fabio Capello chose to mishandle when he called time on the international career of the most famous face in British football. Unlike some players, Beckham distinguished himself by making his international career a priority.

Make of him what you like but the model player, or, player model, who once wore a skirt for our mirth, did, bless him, love playing for his country.

Capello falls into step with other top managers, who lack man management skills.

Remember September 6th, 1989, at Lansdowne Road? Yes, Frank Stapleton equalled Don Givens’ Irish goal-scoring record against Germany but that was overshadowed by Jack Charlton hauling off Liam Brady in the first half.

Brady, one of the best players Ireland produced, had harboured hopes of playing in the 1990 World Cup finals. Following what he saw as public humiliation, he announced his retirement after the match.

Capello, that was just bad manners.

Ireland knows the price of loyalty

THE talented Stephen Ireland might be a pup, but he appears to have the smarts not to have to toil when his football career fades.

Ireland rightly has his eye on Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s deep pockets having been relegated from Manchester City’s 2008-09 Player of the Year to the off-roster scrap heap for this season. What former manager Mark Hughes saw in the midfielder, Italian Roberto Mancini does not.

Seeking a €2.5 million “loyalty bonus” (a compromise has been agreed to about half that amount) to ensure safe passage for his player-plus-cash swap with Aston Villa’s James Milner is as cheeky as proffering his alive grandmother’s death in order to duck international duty.

Now Ireland’s antics have not always been Einstein-like in their breadth and execution, but you’ve got ask whether the 23-year-old deserves a “Cajones of the Month Award” for shaking down the latest oil tycoon to stick his drill in the Premier League.

Seeking a loyalty bonus in order to play for another club is like Captain Bligh demanding an extra ration of food and rum for being loyal enough to drift off into the south Pacific as Fletcher Christian assumes control of the HMS Bounty.