Kicking Off


An hour later than expected…

CEO of Sport Ireland John Treacy has started to give his open address to the Oireachtas sports committee in relation to the Football Association of Ireland.

It follows revelations in The Sunday Times in recent weeks that the former CEO of the FAI John Delaney gave the FAI a “bridging loan” of €100,000 in 2017 – a loan Sport Ireland said it new nothing about – and that the FAI paid €3,000 a month in rent for Mr Delaney for several years while he was earning €360,000.

In his opening statement, Mr Treacy said the FAI has not sufficiently explained the circumstances of Mr Delaney’s loan and, as of yesterday afternoon, the FAI had not responded to a second letter from Sport Ireland in which it sought answers.

However, it did receive a letter late last night while a copy was handed into the SI office this morning.

Previously: ‘The FAI Letter Did Not Sufficiently Explain The Circumstances Of This Loan’




Mr Treacy read the following from the letter Sport Ireland received from Donal Conway, president of the FAI:

“I note the concerns expressed by Minister Ross with regards to media reports and your wish for clarification as to the circumstances of the short-term loan by the then chief executive to the association.

“The association has engaged Mazars to carry out an independent review of all matters in this regard.

“When that review is complete I will write to you in more detail in relation to the circumstances involved as requested.

“In the meantime, the association will be happy to meet with you or your officials to review the association’s financial records in relation to the use of State funding.

“The terms and conditions of grant approval require us to satisfy certain conditions. I can confirm, my understanding, that the association has utilised all State funding in compliance with the terms and conditions of grant approval.

“As you are aware from our statement of March 30, 2019, the association has engaged with the Office of Director of Corporate Enforcement and it’s dealings with their inquiries.

“The association has established a committee which I am chairing, to work with our external advisors to urgently address the matters of concern.

“Yours sincerely,

“Donal Conway.”

Fine Gael TD Noel Rock (top) said – following Mr Treacy’s opening statement, and his reading of the FAI’s letter above – that he wished to ask a question of the chair of the committee Fine Gael TD Fergus O’Dowd (above), given the “extraordinary letter” received by Sport Ireland.

However, Mr O’Dowd said the committee had spent an hour fixing the protocol of the meeting and wouldn’t allow Mr Rock ask his question.

Mr Rock, who said the “procedural” question was about correspondence received, called Mr O’Dowd’s response “extraordinary” and “deeply unprofessional”.


Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy said to Mr Treacy:

“You seem to take a very soft kind of approach with the FAI, work with them if you like…but it doesn’t seem to be reciprocated and certainly this response [letter] would certainly give us this impresssion – this is one-way traffic.

There has to be some sanction that you wil impose or else this behaviour will continue.”

Mr Treacy replied:

“We were extremely disappointed with the letter. We have the right to ask about terms and conditions about funding and this letter provided no information whatsoever.”

Ms Murphy also asked Mr Treacy what action Sport Ireland will take if, after further correspondence with the FAI, Sport Ireland is still not satisfied with the FAI’s response.

Mr Treacy said:

We have provided 50 per cent of funding to the FAI already this year, right. We have asked for this information, we will be asking again, tomorrow.

“If we don’t get a response, we have a board meeting on Tuesday and the board will discuss it and it’s a matter then for the board to decide what action needs to be taken.

“If they’re not compliant with the terms and conditions of funding, it will require the board to look at what actions it can take.”

Mr Treacy has told Mr Rock that the FAI sought early drawdown of funding in early 2019, 2018, 2017 and 2016.

Asked by Mr Rock if this points to “serious cash-flow issues”, Mr Treacy said: “Yes, it does.”

Asked if it raises flags in Sport Ireland, Mr Treacy said Sport Ireland is aware the FAI is “carrying large debt” but he said the “sustainability of the organisation is still moving forward”.

Mr Treacy said: “Debt has decreased but it is a concern.”

Asked if Sport Ireland sought to meet the FAI to discuss the cash-flow issues, Mr Treacy said: “We would meet regularly with the FAI”.

The committee heard they last met with the FAI in December.

Mr Treacy confirmed to Mr Rock that on June 15, 2017, Sport Ireland approved a grant for the FAI and that on June 16, 2017 the FAI requested a drawdown of 25% of that grant.

The committee heard on June 16, 2017, John Delaney’s €100,000 loan was repaid by the FAI.

Mr Rock asked Mr Treacy if that struck him as “peculiar” or as a “serious cash-flow issue” within the FAI.

Mr Treacy said: “That’s exactly why we’ve asked those questions.”

Asked if Sport Ireland knows whether the FAI has sought further loans, Mr Treacy said that Sport Ireland has asked FAI if there is any other issue that has taken place or likely to take place but those questions weren’t responded to by the FAI.

Mr Rock said the letter that Sport Ireland received this morning is “frankly insulting to your organisation”.

Mr Rock then asked: “Does the more recent disclosure undermine your level of satisfaction for the affairs and audits of previous years?”

Mr Treacy said: “We can only stand by independent auditors that we send in ourselves and, as I said, we had three independent auditors that went in, three separate companies, and they all came back…we’re satisfied in terms of the funding that we put in, the compliance with our terms and conditions. We certainly believe we get value for money.”


Solidarity-People Before Profit TD Ruth Coppinger asked Mr Treacy who regulates the FAI.

He said:

“We protect the investment that we make in the FAI and I’ve outlined the verification of that countless times. That’s the piece that we do. The board of the FAI regulates and oversees the corporate governance of the FAI.”

Asked if he ever thought it was “strange” that “the CEO of a sporting body” [Mr Delaney] would earn more than a Taoiseach, Mr Treacy said: “Yeah. I did think it strange.”

He said he didn’t raise it with the FAI as it was a “matter for the board [of the FAI]”.

Asked by Sinn Féin TD Imelda Munster if he has confidence in the board of the FAI, Mr Treacy said:

“Where we are at the moment is this: we’ve asked questions and we haven’t got answers and that raises serious concerns within the executive and within Sport Ireland.”

Asked the question again, Mr Treacy paused for a number of seconds to consider his answer before saying:

“Well, I’m not saying yes.”

Fianna Fáil TD Kevin O’Keeffe – who secured two World Cup tickets, which he paid for, via Mr Delaney – asked if the €100,000 loan would be a high or medium priority for Sport Ireland.

Mr Treacy said it’s a “very high-priority” matter for Sport Ireland and the body is awaiting the response from the FAI.

Mr O’Keeffe then asked if the loan seems “illegal” to Sport Ireland.

Explaining his question, Mr O’Keeffe said:

“If I walked out to Kildare Street there straight away and walked across the street and I got knocked. It’s wrong because I didn’t look left and right but it’s not illegal to walk across the street…What I’m asking is, this €100,000 – obviously it looks politically incorrect, you know, but was it.. does it seem to be illegal, at the moment, what happened?”

Mr Treacy said Sport Ireland has asked about the circumstances of the loan because they didn’t know anything about it.

He said if there was a material deterioration in the FAI’s finances, they needed to know about it and to not be informed of a material deterioration in the FAI would be “a breach of our terms and conditions for funding”.

Related: Fianna Fail TD Kevin O’Keeffe who is on Dail committee bought World Cup Final tickets through under-fire FAI chief John Delaney (Neil Cotter and Adam Higgins, The Irish Sun)

(Oireachtas webcasting is provided by the Houses of the Oireachtas Service, in association with HEAnet, Ireland’s National Educational and Research Network)

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36 thoughts on “Kicking Off

  1. eoin

    Is that the back of Kieran Mulvey’s ceann above? He’s the chairman of Sport Ireland. He is also Denis O’Brien’s nominee on the board of Independent News and Media. Small world.

    1. jusayinlike

      @ eoin

      Keiran Mulvey is a non executive director, Redacted brought him into INM because he wants to shut the Citywest plant and run it out of the Irish Times’ plant.

      Mulvey will be brokering the deal with SIPTU.

  2. curmudgeon

    John Treacy’s opening statement states that Sport Ireland isnt a regulatory authority and that those personal rental payments are none of their business. They give the the money what they do with it is entirely up to them.

  3. eoin

    Whoah, Sport Ireland gave the FAI 25% of the total allocation for 2019 “at the end of March”, right smack bang in the middle of this loan controversy, without having received satisfactory answers. Sport Ireland has now given 50% of the total allocation for 2019, seems to be very much front loaded.

    1. Curated by Vanessa for Frilly Keane

      Ah stop!!!

      They’re no one t’ be talking about Director enrichment
      And look at the board FFS
      And 2 ( was 3) GAA heads
      Along with Morning Ireland’s Caroline Murphy
      And a former Minister for Sport – Blueshurt natch

      And way too much cross over from the Sports Campus Development Authority

      This state board lark is an effin’ racket

  4. Zaccone

    They need to withdraw funding from the FAI now.

    The only way to get the FAI to change its ways is to hit it financially.

  5. LeopoldGloom

    What a strange way of questioning by O’Keefe.

    He should be told that if he walked out of Kildare street and just crossed the road it would likely be illegal as there are 2 crossings well within the 10 metres or whatever it is exactly laid out in the statute book.

  6. Dan

    Delany hides money in FAI accounts so his ex wife wouldn’t get any of it? I wonder did he declare it in his divorce proceedings?
    FAI would not be stuck for 100g so the above is the only logical explanation. If not, why did Delany seek a super injunction to stop any reference to the loan getting into the public domain?

    1. dav

      @Dan he claimed that the only reason the Sunday Times could have known about the loan was that they got it from his “in camera” divorce proceedings, ST proved that they didn’t. Judge told Delaney to get lost and Delaney has been caught with his pants down.. in the legal sense, I’m sure his ex-wife’s lawyers will be wanting to look at the FAI’s books very closely..

      1. Forfuppssake

        The blinkist story was more interesting

        Still, thanks for reading the Sun for us so that we don’t have to. Next time please post a story about a celebrity though

          1. Forfuppssake

            Ok I suppose he is a minor league celeb

            I was thinking more Vogue Williams or Glenda Gilson

      2. Martco

        just today a fella at the office was wondering how to circumvent an issue with family inheritance tax..sure jasus I have the answer for him now so!!
        get the da to loan the money and shure when all’s said and done and the da is 6ft under they could just get it written off. because, like, humanitarian grounds.


          1. martco

            how is Hickey & co gonna get away with the benefit of that spent money Frillz?
            revenue surely interested in €400k spend..some bik or worse due, no?

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