| 8.9°C Dublin

Delaney lobbied State for projects now under threat due to FAI row

Close

John Delaney (pictured) lobbied minister Paschal Donohoe

John Delaney (pictured) lobbied minister Paschal Donohoe

Paschal Donohoe

Paschal Donohoe

Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

/

John Delaney (pictured) lobbied minister Paschal Donohoe

Former FAI chief executive John Delaney wrote to the finance and sports ministers, stressing the importance of funding for projects that are now under threat due to the controversy surrounding the association.

Letters obtained by the Herald show how Mr Delaney directly lobbied Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe in relation to the Munster Centre of Excellence.

Separately, he told Sports Minister Shane Ross that the construction of a "modern-day stadium" for Finn Harps in Donegal was an "absolute priority".

Both developments are now among a significant number of projects reliant on state funds that the ministers may withhold.

Problems

Mr Ross has confirmed money can be allocated to the ventures, but they will meet problems at drawdown stage if the FAI has not implemented a string of governance reforms.

It follows controversy over a €100,000 loan given by Mr Delaney to help the FAI through a cash flow problem and questions about the usage of FAI monies.

Plans for a new centre of excellence in Glanmire, Co Cork, were launched in December 2016. The proposal includes seven pitches and high-level accompanying facilities on a 30-acre site. Cork City FC is a partner in the plans.

In September 2017, Mr Del-aney sent "a short note to update" Mr Donohoe on the project.

He said it was "ready to go" with full planning permission and "is essential for the development of football in Cork and the greater Munster area".

"We have been delighted with the cross-party support of the project, and in particular Tan-aiste Simon Coveney since the project's inception," he wrote.

"It should also be noted that Alan Kelly, Minister for the Environment at the time, was also extremely supportive."

The letter goes on to say Government funds of €2m a year over three years would help pay for the development.

"I would appreciate a meeting for discussion at your convenience," Mr Delaney wrote.

In his letter to Mr Ross regarding Finn Harps last July, Mr Delaney said he wanted to "briefly discuss" the project.

He explained that Finn Harps had plans for a "modern-day stadium" in Donegal in 2007.

"Their plans started but stalled due to the downward spiral of the economy, leaving a partially-built viewing stand on the Ballybofey site," he said.

Both the FAI and Finn Harps agreed a revised plan for the stadium, deciding it "should form part of their strategic plan but with a more realistic approach to complete the partially built stadium".

"Part of this strategy is to modify the original plans to focus on and ensure the main stand and football pitch are completed," he added.

"This will deliver to the region a facility with approximately 2,000 seated spectators with ample tiered standing areas around the ground."

He concluded by noting that the FAI viewed the development "as an absolute priority and believes a facility of this calibre would help progress football in the Donegal area and benefit the north-west region in general".

The threat by the Government to withhold funds will worry people associated with the projects.

Other projects awaiting state funding include the Aviva Stadium. The venue needs a grant of €5m for an upgrade ahead of Euro 2020.

The renovation of Dalymount Park is also expected to get an investment from the taxpayer.