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Wednesday 16 October 2019

Delaney's days at the top table look to be over for the forseeable future

John Delaney’s life post-FAI could be away from these shores
John Delaney’s life post-FAI could be away from these shores

John Delaney always knew his audience.

And he knew exactly what he was doing when opened up to a camera crew from Sky Sports News, who had followed him around for a day back in March 2013 to see what exactly his job as FAI CEO entailed

"I was offered a job on three times my salary, that's a fact. I brought it to the (FAI) board. I didn't take the job, I didn't want the job, I am very happy in this job," he told the team from Sky Sports in 2013 when the channel did a feature on him.

That puff piece on Delaney included a scene where the cameras rolled as Delaney put in his standard daily school-run phone call to his twins, had the news that Clones Town FC had decided to name their ground after him and also informed its UK-based audience that Delaney was about to head off to the US for a trip which included a meeting with Barack Obama.

We even got to see the embossed invitation. For a subsequent documentary, made for a domestic audience, the camera also caught the moment where Delaney, on a phone call, reminded the person on the other end of the line "don't forget, I'm meeting the Queen".

Six years later, the doors of the White House are no longer open to Delaney. Invites to eat canapés with British royals have dried up.

Slammed

And the 51-year-old will find out in the coming months just how many doors, which once opened wide at the very mention of his name, are also slammed shut.

Delaney may also find a very short queue of employers willing to offer him three times the €360,000 a year salary he was earning back in 2013.

If he had accepted that mystery offer in 2013, he'd have been on a seven-figure income, before bonuses like rent being covered by his employer.

But today, John Delaney is a long way from being a million euro man.

Irish football, the base of power for the Delaney family going back almost four decades, to the time when his father was a senior FAI official, is closed to him. 

Delaney still (technically) has a place on UEFA's Executive Committee. But he has had no involvement with UEFA since May. It's widely accepted that he will never attend a meeting of that ExCo group again, and his resignation, forced or otherwise, from UEFA is only a matter of time.

Reinhard Grindel, one-time head of the German FA, resigned from his prestigious posts with UEFA and FIFA earlier this year due to a scandal over the non-declaration of gifts he received, Grindel quitting before he had the ignominy of being sacked.

Titles meant a lot to Delaney, a man who had no shyness about him when Clones Town FC asked in 2014 if they could name their new ground in his honour. In a very short space of time, he has lost his titles as Vice President of the Olympic Council of Ireland, CEO of the FAI and Executive Vice President of the FAI.

titles

His fans had claimed Delaney "could run FIFA, could run anything", but what next for a man no longer in possession of titles?

His support base in Europe, which his fans here claimed was crucial in Ireland winning the rights to host events like Euro 2020 and the U17 European Championship finals, has disappeared.

Not one member of the 19-strong UEFA ExCo has come out in defence of Delaney.

He still has supporters, some of them emerging on the airwaves in the last 24 hours.

He's been protected to the extent that, remarkably in the smartphone era, only one photo of Delaney has become public in the last three months.

Delaney will look around him, from faces familiar to the Irish public from the Celtic Tiger years when he reigned over Irish football, for examples of roads he can travel. 

Some of those who went bankrupt during the recession went abroad to revive their careers.

Othersstayed closer to home, waited for the boom to return and are back building again.

Delaney may find Ireland Inc. is closed off for him, and a move to big jobs in UEFA, FIFA or the IOC impossible.

But he still has enough contacts within the game to find a role.

That's likely to lead Delaney to a role within football, but possibly with a national association in Asia or Africa, where the contacts which led to him hiring Giovanni Trapattoni could come in use.

However, invites to tea in the White House and Buckingham Palace will be off the menu.

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