FAI will make call on debt next year
Delaney insists association could get back in black by 2020 but funds may instead be used 'to further develop game'
John Delaney is adamant that the FAI will be able to reduce its debt burden to zero by 2020 to match a pledge he made after the redevelopment of Lansdowne Road.
Speaking at the launch of the FAI's Festival of Football in Kilkenny, this year's AGM town, Delaney claimed that a zero sum debt was achievable by the stated date but that the board would make a decision next year whether to do that or "further develop the game".
"I've said this many times, it comes within the compass of the board to reduce our debt if we so wish by 2020.
"We'll outline it again at the AGM, because we've significant sponsorships coming for renewal by 2020," said the FAI CEO.
"We've the naming rights to the Aviva coming for renewal, there is ten-year tickets and there is centralised television.
"If the Association wants to reduce the debt to zero by 2020, it is well within our compass to do that.
"I think in the past that has been questioned. We were at €70 million, now we are down to €34 million," he said.
A key component in any decision making willl be Ireland's World Cup status.
"The decision the association will make will be, will we bring the debt down to zero or will we use the funds to further develop the game?
"Particularly after we know whether we qualify for the World Cup, and where we are in certain other sponsorships and naming rights.
"So it is still well within our compass. I think we have demonstrated from the past when it was €70m, we brought it down to €34m, and we could certainly bring it to zero if we wish to, or the view might be to put the funds directly into the game and retain some debt. Next year we will take a decision on that."
Presumably the ideal scenario would be to have no debt and still have plenty to spend on the grassroots.
A key generator of cash for the FAI has always been their apparel deal and it was something of a surprise when New Balance was announced as the new kit sponsor, although speculation has been around for some months that a change from Umbro was imminent.
The FAI's deal is with Irish company Topline who hold the New Balance brand in Ireland and appear to be the ones calling the shots.
"That's within their contractual rights. No problem. It runs to 2020. They brought it to us that they want to move from Umbro to New Balance and we've supported that.
"And we look forward to working with New Balance.
"Like any sponsor you will assess that nearer the time but Topline have been with us for a long time and have been a very good sponsor of Irish football and they came with a proposal about New Balance.
"We've supported it and that's their decision. Hopefully we'll get to know New Balance fairly quickly and work well with them," said Delaney.
Delaney also had news of Dalymount Park and revealed that the FAI are hoping for a 2021 completion date.
"The Government has given us a budget and what is being looked at the moment I presume is the cost of that and what form of community involvement could be used for Dalymount Park, not just League of Ireland football and international football. But Dalymount Park will happen.
"I want 2021 because we're 100 years in football. The year we got the Euros, we called the saving of Dalymount Park.
"I think we've worked with the partners, the DCC, with Zurich and agreed to the ownership of DCC. Shelbourne have agreed in principle to go to Dalymount Park.
"The soul of Irish football which is Dalymount Park would be a fit-for-purpose stadium, not just for League of Ireland football but for underage international football."