Leo Varadkar: John Delaney shouldn’t have to resign over ‘unusual’ loan

Taoiseach says €100,000 loan from chief executive is a matter for FAI to resolve

FAI chief executive John Delaney with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar ahead of Ireland’s World Cup play-off defeat to Denmark in 2017. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

FAI chief executive John Delaney with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar ahead of Ireland’s World Cup play-off defeat to Denmark in 2017. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

The Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, has described reports that FAI chief executive John Delaney loaned the association €100,000 in April 2017 as “unusual” but says that the matter is one for the organisation’s own board to resolve and that he does not see it as resigning matter for the 51 year-old.

“It does seem a bit unusual,” he said, speaking at Government Buildings, “a body of that size, given its operations and the funding it receives; I would have thought has banking facilities that would 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.”

It is, he continued, however, “a matter for the FAI, which is an independent body and has its own board.” Asked specifically whether Delaney should step aside while the matter is investigated, the Taoiseach said: “No, not in my own view, but that would not be a matter for me, that is a matter for the FAI board.”

A spokesperson for Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross had earlier confirmed that he had requested Sport Ireland to write to the association seeking clarification on the issue. They said, however, that “Sport Ireland has been assured by the FAI’s auditors that public funds are allocated by the FAI to the intended programmes.”

Sport Ireland had said, nevertheless, that the sort of deterioration in the FAI’s financial situation that would be required to necessitate a short term loan of the sort suggested would be something that would have to be reported to it by the association under the terms of its grants to football’s governing body.

On Wednesday evening, the FAI confirmed that it had received that letter from Sport Ireland and had replied to its CEO, John Treacy. “The FAI has answered all queries raised in the letter from Mr Treacy and looks forward to his response,” said the association in an official statement, its fourth on the matter in as many days.

“The FAI are also willing to meet with Minister Ross and Sport Ireland to discuss these matters further,” the statement continued. It said that the association had written to the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement “offering clarification on any issues raised by a 2017 bridging loan made by Chief Executive Officer John Delaney to the Association,” and that the organisation would answer any questions that the ODCE wanted to put to it.

The statement concluded with an acknowledgement the FAI has been invited to appear in the front of the Oireachtas Committee on Sport on Wednesday, April 10th although it did not actually state that the association would be attending, much less that Delaney would be representing it, as has been expected.

Delaney is, in any case, is bound to face questions about the cheque that he wrote to the association for €100,000 and the payment the other way as reported in The Sunday Times at the weekend. The official explanation, that it was a short term loan to assist with cash flow, has prompted widespread surprise.

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