Macdara Ferris at the Aviva Stadium
Last Sunday the Republic of Ireland were in Denmark on the eve of their final UEFA Nations League game – a match that would turn out to be Martin O’Neill’s final game in charge.
Fast forward seven days and the FAI were unveiling their new manager – the return of Mick McCarthy – and putting in place a succession plan with Stephen Kenny coming in as the new under 21 boss before he takes over the reigns from McCarthy in 2020.
Just prior to the unveiling of the new manager on Sunday in the Aviva Stadium press room, the board of the FAI filed into the room to take up their position in the front row. Next out came the new manager Mick McCarthy to be flanked by FAI high performance director Ruud Dokter and FAI CEO John Delaney.
Delaney offered a robust defence of the FAI from the criticism levelled against them in relation to the transparency of the organisation and the removal of Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane so soon after their recent improved contract renewal.
“That is completely unfair,” said Delaney in response to recent comments from Catherine Murphy TD who is looking for more transparency from the FAI – an organisation she described as “secretive.”
“My own salary is transparent,” said Delaney who earns €360,000. “Other sports bodies wouldn't reveal the CEO's salary, and I'm probably one of the few whose salary is disclosed. Some people try to get publicity for themselves but when you examine the facts they don't stack up.”
Reports have suggested that the FAI paid out a seven figure sum to the previous senior management team as they departed the scene during the week.
“Figures get floated around and they become fact. Some of the figures mentioned in the public have been nonsense. We can’t come out and deny it and say ‘that figure isn’t true’ as then it is ‘well, what is it?’ The FAI has made nine profits in a row and will make another in 2018.”
There have been calls for Delaney to attend the Oireachtas sports committee to discuss investment in the game including the League of Ireland. In response on Sunday, Delaney noted that he has done so before and is happy to do so again to talk with those “interested in developing Irish football” but that he is “not really interested in side shows and people making comments for publicity.
“I’ve been in front of many Dáil committees before explaining what Irish football does,” said Delaney who became the full time CEO of the FAI in 2005. “I think the association does its job really well.
“I’d like to be in there talking about more funding for Irish football. We have about €60m worth of major projects we are working on in the League of Ireland.
“There is €35m for Dalymount Park, €11m for Glanmire, Drogheda’s new stadium of about €5m, Finn Harps new stadium for about €4 to €5m and €4 to €5 million for the fourth stand at Shamrock Rovers. These are big projects to improve the League of Ireland and the association is central to all of those strategies.
“I have no problem meeting anybody who wants to develop Irish football and make sure Irish football gets to the next stage. I’m not that interested in meeting people who are looking for what I would call a bit of self publicity come in and talk to the association to bring the game forward.”
Extratime.ie asked Delaney about the speed of the appointment and how important the FAI CEO thought it was to have a manager in place before next Sunday’s European qualification draw. The groups for the qualifiers will be known after the draw in the convention centre in Dublin next week, an event that will be attended by the great and the good of UEFA.
“It was important to have a manager for the draw but it wasn't the main reason,” outlined Delaney. “We wanted to have the right manager, a manager who wanted it. We discussed it with the board and Ruud and we made the decision that Mick was the manager who we wanted to manage the team and he was available, so why wait around? Get on and get him appointed.”