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FAI statement fails to clarify details of €100k 'loan' from Delaney

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Former FAI chief executive John Delaney faced controversy. Photo: SPORTSFILE

Former FAI chief executive John Delaney faced controversy. Photo: SPORTSFILE

Former FAI chief executive John Delaney faced controversy. Photo: SPORTSFILE

Opening remarks prepared for an Oireachtas committee hearing by Football Association of Ireland president Donal Conway offer no further clarity about a loan given to the organisation by former chief executive John Delaney.

The 22-page statement - seen by the Herald - does not use the term "bridging loan" to describe the matter.

Payment

Instead, the 2017 transaction is referred to as a €100,000 "payment" and "issue".

Mr Conway's address adds that the FAI has advised Sport Ireland that recent public comments by the FAI "did not accurately reflect the board's level of awareness of the existence of the €100,000 payment to the association in 2017".

The FAI has confirmed that Mr Conway, Mr Delaney, senior board members Paraic Treanor and Eddie Murray and interim chief executive Rea Walshe will appear before the Oireachtas committee on transport, tourism and sport.

The meeting is expected to be dominated by questions over a €100,000 loan which FAI statements last month had attributed to a short-term cash flow issue.

In the statement there is no further detail on the circumstances surrounding the loan or the absence of a record of it in the financial statement of the organisation that year.

Two separate reviews have been put in train by the FAI.

A review by global auditing firm Mazars has been commissioned, and accountants Grant Thornton have been at the FAI since April 2 to review the organisation's ledgers, books and records.

"The involvement of Grant Thornton also allows the addressing of queries raised regarding the €100,000 issue from 2017 to ensure the response to queries is comprehensive and accurate," Mr Conway's statement reads.

One TD who sits on the committee, Fine Gael's Noel Rock, has said that the suggestion that recent FAI comments did not reflect the board's awareness of the €100,000 issue raised more questions.

"What did the board know about the loan, when did they know it, how many of them knew about it, how did a loan take place without the board being aware of the terms of it?" he said.

"Crucially, when they unanimously approved the appointment of Mr Delaney to the position of executive vice president, had they been appraised of the full facts with regard to this loan?"

Sport Ireland - which oversees the administration of State funding to the FAI - was not made aware of the loan or any material deterioration in FAI finances in 2017, something which the terms and conditions of its grant funding requires.

Mr Conway's statement appears to concede that the FAI fell short in this regard.

Fluctuations

He says that the FAI acknowledges "certain circumstances arose in April 2017 which were not reported to Sport Ireland".

Mr Conway says he "regrets" that the FAI could not provide more help to Sport Ireland when they requested it and that it is moving as fast as it can on matters.

Mr Conway is to tell the committee that "sport is a very different business to others. Financial fluctuations are the norm and cashflow is often irregular".

He will point to the disappointment of the failure of the men's senior team to qualify for the World Cup in 2018.

This was to have "a major impact on match attendance and, subsequently, cashflow".

A review by external expert Jonathan Hall which looked at governance in the organisation has also been provided to TDs ahead of the hearing.

It recommended that Mr Delaney be moved to the new role of executive vice president.

Mr Conway says Mr Delaney's appointment to a new role will be "to the benefit of Irish football".