FAI must disclose details of Delaney payout, says O’Dowd
Former FAI officials question timing of €500,000 payout to ex-CEO
John Delaney is believed to have secured a deal worth around €500,000 to resign his position with the FAI. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire
The chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport Fergus O’Dowd has called on the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) to disclose details of the payout to former head John Delaney.
Mr Delaney is believed to have secured a deal worth around €500,000 to resign his position with the FAI and finally end his involvement with an organisation whose affairs he completely dominated for a decade and a half.
The bulk of the money is understood to be made up of contributions to Mr Delaney’s pension which may be staggered, with the other element being a payment in lieu of notice.
The pension contribution figure is believed to be just over €400,000, with the balance bringing the total value to around €500,000.
In its statement, issued late on Saturday night, the FAI said both sides had agreed not to reveal the actual detail involved.
He said he wanted the details of the ‘secret deal’ to be known.“We need to know if Santa Claus came to John Delaney” and there needs to be total credibility about any payments, he said.
The timing of the payment was also wrong he said, as a forensic audit of the association has not yet been published.
Once the forensic audit is published on October 7th the Oireachtas committee “will go through it in fine detail. We need to move it on and the money to go back to young people.”
Mr O’Dowd said he did not know about the settlement to Mr Delaney and was concerned about the way it was announced.
The appropriate time would have been after the forensic audit was completed. To do anything before then was premature, he said.
The Oireachtas committee will continue to hold the FAI accountable, he said. “This is bigger than any individual. It’s about all of those people who follow soccer.”
The public needs to be assured of the corporate governance of the FAI, he said. “Until we see the audit we won’t know what has to happen,” he said.
‘Accounts shrouded in mystery’
Minister for Sport Shane Ross also said he wanted the full terms of the agreement made public and he suggested that he believed that the association still had significant work to do on other fronts before public funding previously worth around €2.9 million could be restored.
The resignation deal looks to be in line with what experts in employment law had previously suggested to The Irish Times a typical settlement might eventually look like with payments worth nine to 15 months’ salary, often structured to be tax efficient for the recipient, not uncommon.
The incentive for the employer, even one that believes it has a strong case, is to avoid the possibility of protracted and costly litigation which always carries the risk of somehow going wrong and requiring a substantial payment to be made in the end anyway. The worst-case scenario in this instance, it was believed, might have run to several million euro.
Board members had also agreed a bonus clause entitling Delaney to around €2 million if t he stayed at the organisation until 2021, a factor that would probably have influenced his original demands when negotiations began in April and he was said to have sought between €2 million and €3 million to leave.
Delaney’s remaining link to the high level game, his seat at Uefa’s top table, is also expected to be severed shortly .
‘Smacks of the old FAI’
Former FAI CEO Fran Rooney has called on the association to reveal exactly how much Mr Delaney received in compensation over the past 14 years.
Details of how much Mr Delaney was paid by way of salary, pension contributions, use of credit cards, benefit-in-kind and parachute payments all must be disclosed, Mr Rooney told RTÉ Morning Ireland.
There needs to be full disclosure of all payments if the FAI is to regain public confidence. The amount could be between €5million and €7million, he said.
The manner in which Mr Delaney’s departure was revealed late on Saturday night and the lack of transparency about the financial package “smacks of the old FAI,”he added.
Mr Rooney dismissed suggestions that the deal is subject to employer/employee confidentiality, pointing out that the FAI is a public company “using tax payers’ money, relying on government funding. “Full transparency is needed here,” he said.
While he welcomed Mr Delaney’s departure, the manner in which it was conducted “leaves a lot to be desired.”
Mr Rooney said he agreed with the Minister for Sport Shane Ross, that a completely new board is required for the FAI. The new board members chosen at a recent EGM were long time FAI members and did not constitute a new regime.
“A new regime is needed to bring the organisation forward. Good governance is what this is about and the FAI fell at the first hurdle.”
‘The old regime’
Meanwhile, former FAI general secretary Brendan Menton questioned the timing of the pay out to Mr Delaney.
“This goes back to the old FAI - do a deal and bury under the carpet,” he told RTÉ radio’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show.
Mr Menton also argued that the FAI will spend 30 years paying back loans for the Abbotstown campus, money that could have been used promoting the game at grass roots level, he said.
“I see no change in the culture of the FAI. It’s the same arguments, the same approach, do a deal, pay out the money. The FAI is still being led by a president that came from the old regime.”
Stuart Gilhooly, solicitor for the Professional Footballers’ Association, told the same programme that he too found the timing of the deal with Mr Delaney as odd.
The FAI could have waited for the forensic audit to be published, he said, and while that might have provided grounds to terminate Mr Delaney’s contract, that could have been appealed (by Mr Delaney) and ended up in court.
“You’re never sure that you’re going to win in court. I know that will stick in people’s craw, but the cost otherwise would have been much higher.
“Once the report is out I believe we will see a new FAI. There’s a lot to be said for getting John Delaney off the books.”
Secretary of the Kerry soccer league John O’Regan said the “grass roots have no problem with how the money is being spent”, but that Minister Ross “should not have the FAI over a barrel.”