Delaney steps down as FAI CEO but retains control of key portfolios

John Delaney
By Tony Leen
Sports Editor

The FAI has confirmed that chief executive John Delaney has stepped down from the position but will remain within the Association executive as vice president.

Chief Operating Officer Rea Walshe has been appointed to the role of Interim CEO by the FAI Board as the recruitment process begins for a new chief executive officer.

The new appointment will oversee the day to day business of the Association.

The decision follows a full and external consultancy review of the management structures in the Association.

It also signals a more balanced division of responsibilities within the FAI executive though Delaney’s new role of executive vice president will see him retain responsibility for all UEFA and FIFA matters, including the proposed ‘home countries’ bid for the 2030 World Cup.

Delaney, of course, retains his role as a a UEFA ExCo board member.

Sources within the FAI insisted Saturday night that the decision has not been influenced by the controversy surrounding a €100,000 loan from Delaney to the FAI, which was revealed by the Sunday Times.

But its timing may have been.

It is understood the FAI Board was due to announce the moves within the next fortnight but felt there was no advantage to holding off in the current turbulent climate.

Under the new procedures, the Executive Vice-President and the CEO would attend Board meetings of the FAI but would not be members of the Board.

The report was commissioned in February and carried out in recent weeks by sports governance expert Jonathan Hall Associates and their principal Jonathan Hall who is a former Director of Governance and Director of Football Services with the English FA.

Jonathan Hall Associates was engaged to review senior management structures and the role of CEO as the Association plans for the launch of a new strategic report for the period 2020-2024 and ahead of its centenary in 2021.

The report recommends that the FAI considers creating a new role of Executive Vice-President and starts the process of appointing a new CEO in order to put itself in the best position possible for the strategic period ahead.

Delaney said: “This new role is one that really excites me. For some months now, I have been talking to President Donal Conway, the Board and members of our senior management team about redefining the most senior management roles at the Association.

The Jonathan Hall Associates review has now been adopted by the Association and I am privileged to accept this new role as Executive Vice-President as there is so much I can offer the FAI in this position as we future proof football in Ireland.

“Since my appointment as CEO, we have built the world class stadium that is the Aviva Stadium in partnership with the Government and the IRFU.

"We have hosted the UEFA Europa League final and next year we will host four games at EURO 2020, hopefully with Mick McCarthy and his Ireland team there in group stages.

"We have competed at European Championship finals and our fans have been recognised repeatedly as the best in the world.

“We have improved the League of Ireland significantly, we have introduced underage structures to the League and we have offered our best young footballers a pathway to the top of the game in tandem with our Player Development Plan.

"We have also brought women’s football into the Association and we have worked very hard in recent years to correct mistakes made and improve the women’s game at all levels.”

He added: “There have been many challenges for Irish football in my time as CEO and I will be the first to acknowledge that but I have always given my best for Irish football and I will continue to do that in this new role.

“This past fortnight has been very difficult for me on a personal and professional level and I would like to thank the Board and my work colleagues across the FAI for their support.

"In recent days I have received many messages of support from the family of football, from many of the 2,000 clubs I have visited in my role as CEO and from the world of politics and sport which I am grateful for.”

Delaney said: “We are also working on a new centralised international TV deal with UEFA which will be hugely beneficial to the FAI and we are in talks over a centralised TV channel deal which will greatly benefit League of Ireland clubs."

The report states: “The new role of Executive Vice-President would be a specific defined role with responsibility for a range of international matters and special projects on behalf of the FAI.

It is envisaged that the current CEO would step into this new role. This would allow Irish football to continue to benefit from his extensive football experience and contacts across Europe and the rest of the world.

The statement confirms that the Board voted unanimously at its meeting on Friday to appoint CEO John Delaney to the newly created role of Executive Vice-President.

Chief Executive of the FAI since March 2005 and elected to the executive committee of UEFA in 2017, he will take up the role with immediate effect.

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