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John Delaney's UEFA future uncertain as FAI look to European model

John Delaney (Brian Lawless/PA)
John Delaney (Brian Lawless/PA)

By Daniel McDonnell

John Delaney's future in UEFA is uncertain as the FAI look to European models to reform their board structure.

UEFA Executive Committee member Delaney will be absent from their next meeting in Baku tomorrow.

European football's governing body gave a brief statement which confirmed the Waterford man will "not be attending", without elaborating on the reasons for his absence.

The 51-year-old is currently sidelined from his role as the FAI's Executive Vice President pending the outcome of reviews into the affairs of the association.

UEFA are fully briefed on the situation in Ireland as they are providing financial support to the FAI and Noel Mooney has been seconded to Dublin for six months as the interim boss.

They have declined to respond to numerous requests for clarity on Delaney's position on their most powerful board.

He received €160,000 per year for being an Executive Committee member. Delaney did not attend the recent European U-17 Championships in Ireland despite being the main UEFA presence at the draw before the FAI's crisis intensified.

The FAI are engaged in a governance review process with UEFA offering their input.

They are looking at board structures in other UEFA member nations as part of reform plans, with Scotland and Holland two examples that are being closely monitored.

Mooney is due to visit Holland on UEFA business before officially starting his term in Dublin next Monday.

His appointment has become a major talking point due to his FAI past, with Minister for Sport Shane Ross leading the criticism in a Sunday Independent article that has deepened tensions between the government and Abbotstown.

Ross is hosting a stakeholders forum in Dublin this Friday after calling for a new board to be drawn from all sections of the game.

This is taking place while the Governance Review Group established between the FAI and Sport Ireland continues to process submissions.

It's believed that the models in Scotland and Holland have come to the fore because of how they split up the responsibility for the professional and amateur game.

Scotland has a professional game board and a non-professional game board. It has an eight-person board overseeing it which includes reps from those boards as well as a president, vice president, CEO and independent non-executive director.

The structure has come in for some local criticism due to the personalities involved, but Irish eyes are looking at it because the existing FAI board is trying to cover all of the bases without specific expertise.

In Holland, the KNVB has a president, a secretary general and a seven-person management team with five directors looking at the professional game and two heading up a business unit for amateur football. They have a 30-person council of members below it - one from each constituency - who are elected for a three-year term.

The FAI's council is double that size, with no fixed terms as members are drawn from all sections of the game. Certain bodies wield considerable influence, with the Leinster FA holding 10 seats.

Talks have come towards the consensus that the FAI's main board requires independent voices - although there are contrasting views on where to find them.

Ross has spoken of wanting the voices of male and female players and also supporters. The conflicting view is that a smaller board would be preferable, with outside candidates possessing relevant experience in the business of sport.

Niall Quinn's consortium have put their own proposal together and he will be holding talks with Mooney.

There are other names from outside that Quinn group that have been put forward by contributors to the governance review. They would like executives such as Leicester City's Irish CEO Susan Whelan to be approached to sit on the main board.

Irish Independent

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