Sport Ireland seeks 'urgent clarification' from FAI over six-figure 'bridging loan' from CEO John Delaney

Tue, Mar 19 2019

John Delaney provided a €100,000 loan to the association in April 2017, which was paid back two months later. Credit: Macdara Ferris (ETPhotos)

Sport Ireland have written to the FAI requesting ‘urgent clarification’ following revelations of a €100,000 ‘bridging loan’ paid by CEO John Delaney to the association in April 2017.

The statutory body for sport in the Republic of Ireland released a statement on Tuesday evening confirming its intention to seek full clarification in relation to the payment.

A Sunday Times news article last week revealed that Delaney had made the six-figure payment by cheque to the association in April of 2017, which was then repaid in full two months later.

Delaney failed in his bid to have an emergency injunction placed upon publication on Saturday evening, and the association pre-empted it by releasing a statement shortly before midnight.

"Sport Ireland has written to the President of the Football Association of Ireland seeking urgent clarification from the Board of the FAI on media reports concerning a loan to the organisation by its Chief Executive, including the circumstances of the loan and its repayment," read the statement.

"Sport Ireland was not notified at any stage in 2017 about any apparent material deterioration in the FAI’s financial position, as per Sport Ireland’s Terms and Conditions of Grant Approval, and has sought additional clarification in relation to this matter."

The FAI replied with a statement the read: "The Football Association of Ireland has this evening received correspondence from Sport Ireland CEO John Treacy on behalf of Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross.

"The Association are currently preparing a reply to Mr Treacy and will respond at the earliest opportunity."

In the FAI’s statement on Saturday and subsequently on Sunday, it claimed the loan was necessary to fill a short-term shortfall in the association’s finances.

It wasn’t explained why the association was in that situation as audited accounts appear to show significant cash reserves, while the loan was not disclosed.

In November, on the unveiling of Mick McCarthy as senior national team manager, Delaney told journalists: “The FAI has made nine profits in a row and will make another in 2018.”

He added: "[Accusations of lack of transparency] is unfair. Even my own salary is transparent."

Delaney is due to appear before an Oireachtas committee on April 10th to answer various questions in relation to questions over the transparency of the association’s operations.

He has succeeded in having his appearance delayed on two occasions in the past but it’s unlikely he will be able to do so for a third time as pressure mounts to explain the nature of the transaction.

“There are serious questions that need to be answered in relation to this loan,” said Fianna Fáil’s spokesperson for sport.

“Namely, why did a national sporting body which received in the region of €50 million in state funding from 2008-2018 along with commercial contracts, gate receipts and international funding, need a €100,000 bridging loan?”