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€40m TV windfall to wipe out Aviva debt

THE FAI was back in the money today as it secured a massive €40m bonanza for television rights.

The extremely lucrative deal was being approved by UEFA in Paris today and gives Irish football unprecedented wealth.

Crucially, it will mean that the FAI’s debt on the Aviva stadium can be wiped out.

Campaign

The deal comes after a long running campaign by FAI chief executive John Delaney for a complete revolution in the television rights area.

Speaking to the Herald today, Delaney said: “We are very pleased with the agreement.

“It will give great financial certainty to the FAI when we see the direct benefits to these revenue streams.”

The €40m, which is only a base figure, will wipe out the association’s Aviva Stadiun debt by 2020 - which also stands at around €40m.

It firms up John Delaney's standing as the head of Irish football and secures the future of the Association after a turbulent few years.

The money will come from a pooling of international TV rights among the 53 member associations of UEFA, similar to the arrangement in place for the Champions League.

"The deal will be of huge benefit for fans," Mr Delaney said of today's announcement.

No debt

"By 2020 the plan is to have no debt on the Aviva Stadium.

"By centralising the rights each member country has a guaranteed baseline to work off."

It will be introduced in 2014 and is set to be worth €10m a season to the FAI over a four year cycle.

Glamour friendlies like the one next week against Uruguay will be factored in on top of any new deal, adding more money to the coffers.

Under the old system, Ireland earned a paltry amount from big international games -- our top of the table clash with Russia at the Aviva earlier this season generated just €250k for the FAI.

The new deal, which will be ratified in Paris at a UEFA summit this evening, marks a triumph for Mr Delaney who has been a vocal advocate of improvements to the rights issue. The new system offers more equality for the smaller teams and is opposed by the likes of England

It will also mean that Ireland's free-to-air deal will not be affected, and viewers will not have to fork out to watch competitive matches.

"It's as you are," Mr Delaney said today. "Irish audiences will be watching free to air, there will no change there."

News of the deal comes at the perfect time for Irish football as the team prepares to take on Macedonia this weekend in a crucial European Championship qualifier.