Tuesday 12 December 2017

FAI boss John Delaney 'must explain €5m Fifa deal to Dail committee'

FAI chief executive John Delaney kisses his partner Emma English while Sports Minister Paschal Donohoe watches the match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium yesterday
FAI chief executive John Delaney kisses his partner Emma English while Sports Minister Paschal Donohoe watches the match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium yesterday
FAI chief Executive John Delaney and his girlfriend Emma English in attendance at the game.
A cut out of former Fifa President Joseph S. Blatter outside the stadium before the match

EMBATTLED FAI chief John Delaney will have to explain before a Dail committee how the controversial €5m Fifa pay-out could remain undetected for so long in the FAI accounts and annual reports.

Mr Delaney is set to be hauled before a parliamentary committee hearing to explain "governance issues" arising from his acceptance of the €5m from Fifa.

Committee member and Labour TD Michael McCarthy said questions have to be asked.

READ MORE: €3.5m-a-year paid from taxpayer to Irish football since Fifa deal

"How was such a large sum of money handled and transferred and how does it relate to accounting practices generally?

"These are just some of the questions which arise and the public are entitled to answers," Mr McCarthy said.

READ MORE: Ireland v England game passes off peacefully

The payment, which came after Thierry Henry's blatant handball deprived Ireland of a possible place in the 2010 World Cup, has sparked worldwide controversy.

READ MORE:  Republic of Ireland draw little comfort in drab encounter with England

In Ireland it has put the Government under political pressure given that the FAI has received and continues to get huge taxpayer-funded payments. TDs and senators in the Oireachtas sports and tourism committee will meet on Wednesday.

READ MORE: FAI opens up on €5m pay-off and reveals extra $400k sum

Political sources have made it clear they are likely to call Mr Delaney at the earliest possible date.

Committee members say they accept that the sum involved is clearly not taxpayers' money but insist that many related issues and questions arise.

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The committee chairman, Fine Gael TD John O'Mahony, who has had a long sporting involvement managing GAA inter-county teams, said the decision on whether to call Mr Delaney was entirely up to the members.

"But there are governance issues arising here and the FAI does receive taxpayers' funds. This will all be considered by the committee members," Mr O'Mahony said.

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Michael McCarthy said members had to take account of the depth of Irish football supporters' disappointment in 2009.

"The arrival of €5m into the FAI coffers in 2010, a time of nationwide financial distress, appears to have gone unremarked. That is why I believe the FAI should provide the committee with the answers it needs," Mr McCarthy added.

So far, the FAI have said the money was paid over in January 2010 and first accounted for in the association's audited statements.


It was then paid over to the company managing the Aviva Stadium in February and March 2010 to repay some debts. A portion of the money was also used to fund FAI regional grants.

It had originally been styled as a Fifa loan which was later written off in 2013. The Oireachtas sports and tourism committee has already heard from the GAA on the controversy surrounding the cancelled concerts of country music star Garth Brooks and the decision to give some championship rights to Sky television.

The controversy comes at a tricky time for the Government as they grapple with a row over the management of the IBRC bank and an election is expected before early April of next year at latest.

The Fifa pay-out has split opinions. Keith Andrews, who played in 2009, said it did not sit well with him.

"If you are asking me, personally, if I would have taken a penny from them, absolutely not," he said on Friday.

"Do I blame them from going and try to undo the injustice we suffered that night, no absolutely not. But to take the money off them, for me personally, was wrong."

However, former Irish striker John Aldridge said Delaney "pulled off a master stroke".

"Ireland were out of the World Cup and we were getting no compensation for what that meant," he said. "So when Delaney and the FAI were offered this cash, they would have been mad not to take it."


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