herald

Wednesday 13 November 2019

'Look after me when I leave' - Delaney's plea before €2m deal

Former FAI chief John Delaney was offered a ‘loyalty deal’ worth
a reported €2m in deferred payments
Former FAI chief John Delaney was offered a ‘loyalty deal’ worth a reported €2m in deferred payments

Former FAI chief executive John Delaney reportedly told officials the association needed to look after him when he left before talks that led to an exit payment being inserted in his contract.

His role in securing €5m from Fifa in the aftermath of the Thierry Henry handball was one of the justifications offered for the "loyalty deal" worth a reported €2m in the form of deferred payments.

The clause was a significant part of the deal signed by Delaney in 2014, which was due to keep him in office until 2020.

It is understood there was no agreement of that nature in his previous contract.

The FAI and Fifa agreed a €5m settlement in the form of a loan in 2010 after Delaney took issue with comments from then Fifa chief Sepp Blatter.

Reward

This achievement was a reason offered by Delaney supporters for improved terms and conditions for the chief executive.

Income generated by Del- aney through sponsorships was also cited as strengthening the argument for a longer-term reward.

This coincided with a period during which Delaney's salary was cut.

His basic earnings peaked at close to €450,000 in 2010, but he took two pay cuts which brought it down to €360,000 by 2012.

This was in tandem with pay cuts for all FAI employees.

"John said the FAI needed to look after him after he left," said an FAI insider.

Board members were aware of changes to the chief executive's deal in 2014, but some did not have knowledge of the specific details until recent discussions centred on his future with the FAI.

The exit payment has proved to be a stumbling block in talks about a possible exit, with Delaney due a portion of the deferred amount.

He has voluntarily stepped aside from his FAI role pending the outcome of a number of investigations.

An FAI spokesman said yesterday: "We have no comment to make."

Commenting last night, TD Noel Rock said: "It's yet another shambles of a corporate governance decision from the FAI board.

"It's not even clear - like with many mysteries within the FAI - whether the entire board knew or not."

The FAI was in the High Court yesterday, arguing that certain information in 10 documents provided to the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) cannot be disclosed to third parties as they include legal advice from interim chief executive Rea Walshe.

Ms Walshe is a qualified solicitor and is described by the FAI in court documents as its "internal legal adviser" who has provided legal advice that the documents are privileged.

Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds adjourned a decision on whether they are privileged.

Clarification

The material is contained in the minutes of several meetings of the FAI board held between February 2016 and March 2019.

An issue in the case which the judge has sought clarification over is whether Ms Walshe can be considered as the association's internal legal adviser.

This is because of the number of titles she has held with the association, including company secretary since she was appointed as the FAI's head of legal and licensing in 2014.

The FAI says that, despite holding the different roles, she has worked principally as a legal adviser.

The ODCE says there is insufficient evidence that Ms Walshe was qualified to give legal advice at the relevant meetings, given that she had different titles with the FAI.

The judge adjourned the matter to Tuesday to allow the sides to make further submissions on the application.

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