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Monday 19 August 2019

Delaney's 50th bash shows FAI 'happy to turn a blind eye' - TD

John Delaney (pictured) and the FAI face criticism from Noel Rock
John Delaney (pictured) and the FAI face criticism from Noel Rock

An outspoken critic of former FAI chief executive John Delaney has hit out at the sports body over allegations that it had helped pay for his lavish 50th birthday party.

Dublin North-West Fine Gael TD Noel Rock has said allegations that the FAI made improper payments to help fund the party at Mount Juliet Golf Club in 2017 show how the FAI was "happy to keep the show on the road and turn a blind eye".

The allegation about the party funding was revealed in a Sunday newspaper.

It is now believed that the FAI is investigating concerns that Mr Delaney failed to use his credit card properly, failed to manage the finances of the FAI, failed to control his personal expenses, and made a series of payments from FAI funds not in the ordinary course of FAI business.

The Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement has been investigating the FAI since allegations were made that Mr Delaney had loaned €100,000 to the association in 2017, and how €40,000 was spent on his credit card in the last six months of 2016.

While on a salary of €360,000 as chief executive, he used the FAI credit card to pay for duty-free purchases at airports, meals in his local pub in Wicklow and to make cash withdrawals of more than €6,000 in six months.

He is currently on gardening leave from his new post of executive vice president.

Speaking about the allegations that the FAI had assisted in paying for Mr Delaney's party, Mr Rock was critical of the FAI.

"This happened at a time when the women's team were sharing tracksuits and changing their clothes in airport toilets, and staff and former staff were being subjected to pay and pension cuts, and when the FAI were receiving a loan from John Delaney," he said.

Disarray

"Against this backdrop of financial disarray, we have a lavish party being thrown for Delaney's 50th birthday, in a fancy location with members of Uefa flying in.

"This must sit uncomfortably with anyone on the outside."

Those believed to have attended the party include former Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin, politicians Alan Kelly and Michael Ring, and football pundit Eamon Dunphy.

"The FAI was acting like an unlimited tap of money for John Delaney while it was itself in financial disarray," said Mr Rock.

"Surely it occurred to somebody at the party, 'who is paying for this?'.

"In front of an Oireachtas committee Delaney wasn't answering many questions, but we got some insights of people.

"When it came to who knew about the loan it was like pass the parcel, then Rea Walsh, the interim CEO, said they were aware of it," Mr Rock said.

"The FAI seemed happy to keep the show on the road and turn a blind eye. It was mismanagement."

The FAI and Mr Delaney were not available for comment.

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