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John Delaney offers 'to voluntarily step aside' from FAI pending completion of independent investigation

Departure: John Delaney
Departure: John Delaney

By Harry Clarke

Former FAI Chief Executive John Delaney has offered to "step aside" as the organisation's Executive Vice-President pending the completion of an independent investigation by the association into issues of concern to the Board.

The announcement was made in a statement issued by the FAI earlier this evening.

The statement also confirmed Honorary Secretary Michael Cody and Honorary Treasurer Eddie Murray had voluntarily resigned from the Board.

The statement said: "The Board of the Football Association of Ireland met in Dublin today. Following that meeting, the sub-committee of the Board met with Executive Vice-President John Delaney.

"John Delaney has offered to voluntarily step aside from carrying out his role as Executive Vice-President with immediate effect pending the completion of an independent investigation by the Association into issues of concern to the Board.

"Honorary Secretary Michael Cody and Honorary Treasurer Eddie Murray have both voluntarily resigned from the Board.

"The Board would like to thank Michael Cody and Eddie Murray for their long service to Irish football and wish them well after their voluntary resignations.

"The meeting of the Board also mandated the sub-committee, set up to review Governance and recently publicised financial transactions, to press ahead with their work as a matter of urgency. The FAI will update Sport Ireland on all developments ahead of the meeting of the Oireachtas Committee on Sport tomorrow.

"The Board of the Association wishes to assure members, football supporters and all stakeholders and sponsors that it is expediting all processes designed to restore faith in the Football Association of Ireland.

"The Board acknowledges all concerns raised by stakeholders and supporters and is working to ensure that all Government funding is restored to olicitor

Aidan Eames - who was acting on Delaney's behalf when he appeared at the Oireachtas last week - was alongside Delaney as he met with FAI Board members at the Carlton Hotel today.

The FAI also had legal representation present.

Sports Minister Shane Ross heaped further misery on the beleaguered association as he warned it may not be eligible for new large capital sports grants - worth more than €15m - unless it gets its house in order.

Mr Delaney has told friends that he has tendered his resignation from his role as executive vice president to the board and it will let him know its verdict after a meeting today.

It is believed that members of the FAI board are furious with Mr Delaney's messages to his backers as it suggests that he is taking the lead on his imminent exit - when the main voices on the decision-making body now want him to go.

But the Abbotstown authorities have also spent the weekend formulating its latest response to Sport Ireland ahead of John Treacy's return to the Oireachtas Committee tomorrow along with Mr Ross.

The Sports Minister has told the FAI it will not be eligible for new capital sports grants unless it provides answers to Sport Ireland questions around corporate governance arising from Mr Delaney's €100,000 loan to the association in 2017.

A €5m grant to the Aviva Stadium for a Euro 2020 upgrade and funding for a €10m centre of excellence at Glanmire in Cork are two projects that are now vulnerable because of the FAI crisis. The renovation of Dalymount Park is another concern, and Finn Harps and Drogheda stadium projects could also come under scrutiny.

Sport Ireland will make fresh submissions to the Oireachtas Committee by close of business today.

There have been calls for the entire FAI board to step aside but a sub-committee led by president Donal Conway is hoping to ride out the storm by formulating a response.

"It's not entirely clear that Delaney going solves it," said one Government source. "It seems like other heads will have to roll."

Last night, the FAI released a statement which said it would have replies ready and it had noted comments from Mr Ross and Oireachtas Committee chair Fergus O'Dowd about its silence.

"The FAI is engaging with Sport Ireland on the composition of a new governance committee with additional independent members and the appointment of an independent person to the committee of the board examining the current issues," said the statement.

"The association continues to work to restore the trust of its stakeholders. The FAI wants to ensure that all those who play football across Ireland do not suffer as a result of the actions of the association."

In the statement, the FAI confirmed its meeting today - which will also deal with how to handle the complexities of Mr Delaney's exit.

Mr Delaney is confident that he will retain his €160,000-a-year role on the Uefa Executive Committee and European football's governing body has confirmed a member can "technically" stay on if they are not involved with their national association.

Germany's Reinhard Grindel stood down from the Uefa committee last week after leaving his own association due to allegations of undeclared earnings. It was reported in Germany that he initially believed he could retain his role with Uefa as he does not have to stand for re-election until 2021.

Uefa has said it is "aware" of developments in Ireland but has refused to provide answers to specific queries on Mr Delaney.

Meanwhile, Siptu said 57 football development officers are worried about their future due to grant funding threats.

Irish Independent


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