Former FAI chief executive John Delaney in 2006 (top) and today (above)
On RTÉ Radio One’s Today with Seán O’Rourke.
Following on from Executive Vice-President of the Football Association of Ireland John Delaney resigning on Saturday evening after securing a deal for an undisclosed sum – with The Irish Times reporting the deal was worth up to €500,000 and the Irish Independent reporting it was worth €350,000…
Mr O’Rourke spoke to John O’Regan, honorary secretary of the FAI’s Kerry District League for 40 years and senior council member of the FAI; Brendan Menton, former general secretary of the FAI; and Stuart Gilhooly, solicitor with the Professional Football Association of Ireland.
Mr Menton told Mr O’Rourke:
“My first point would be: if this announcement and agreement is a sign of the new corporate governance of the FAI then it can only be described as a spectacular failure. I think one of the principles of the corporate governance proposals was accountability and transparency and I think that scores a zero in this deal.”
Mr Menton also said he took issue with reports that FAI president Donal Conway led the negotiations in the resignation deal, and the timing of the resignation – as it comes one week before the publication of an audit report into the FAI.
Mr Gilhooly said he wasn’t surprised to learn about the deal and that it was “inevitable”.
However, he said the timing of the deal is “odd”.
“In those types of agreements, there will always be a confidentiality clause so I’d be surprised if we get to find out exactly what has been paid unless it does arise at the AGM.
“So I don’t think anybody will want to breach that clause. Indemnity-wise, it’s difficult to know what would be in it but you would imagine that both sides would have sought indemnities from each other.
“So, I would suspect we won’t be hearing from John Delaney in any form in the future.”
In response to Mr Gilhooly’s point about confidentiality clauses in such agreements, Mr Menton said:
“The FAI is not a business, the FAI is a public organisation that is owned by its clubs, its members, its players. They’ve been ignored, and they’ve continuously been ignored. It doesn’t belong the directors, the council members or indeed the employees of the association, it belongs to the members.”
Mr O’Regan, who has previously defended Mr Delaney, said the FAI is a business and is run as a business.
“An awful lot of stuff that John Delaney has done is being forgotten about. The start of the whole thing is that he gave a loan of €100,000 to the FAI and I mean, like [comedian] Jason Byrne said while ago [on Ryan Tubridy show] …a mountain out of a molehill [this comment was not made in respect of Mr Delaney] and I think Stuart Gilhooly has been right there, confidential clauses are the norm for these type of deals and I think, you know, they were looking for a change of board from the old board and we got a change of board.
“These people have decided that now is the right time to come to an agreement with John Delaney and get the issue out of the way. I’m very surprised by Brendan Menton accusing people of brushing stuff under the carpet.
“This is something that was levied at the GAA for years, yet they are a fantastic organisation.”
Asked if he has any concerns about how much money might have been paid to Mr Delaney, Mr O’Regan said:
“As I said, there were people put in charge to come to an agreement with John Delaney. I’m quite sure it isn’t what John Delaney would have expected at the start but it is an agreement between two bodies that decided that this is what it should be.
“And I think we should honour that agreement if there is a confidentiality clause, as Stuart said, that is there and it’s there in every company.”
He added calls for the amount of money to be disclosed are “a bit rich”.
Later, Mr O’Rourke asked Mr O’Regan about a point made by someone who had texted into the show: “If you get taxpayers’ money for funding, you must be completely transparent”.
Mr O’Regan said:
“Listen. We are completely transparent in…the taxpayers’ money that they’re talking about is a Sports Capital Grant. Those four capital grants are going to the likes of the Kerry District League, the Clare District League, Limerick District League and all the clubs throughout the length and breath of the country.
“The grassroots people have no problem with how money is being spent. We spend it properly. All you have to do, or Shane Ross has to do, or Brendan Menton or anybody, take one trip down to The Kingdom.
“Come down to Kerry, have a look at Mounthawk Park, all the grounds throughout the length and breadth of Kerry ….every penny that we got from the Sports Capital Grant has been spent in a correct way and I can assure you the minister has got great value for money from sport capital funding.”
Listen back in full here