John Delaney steps down as FAI CEO to take up executive vice president role

Sat, Mar 23 2019

Delaney pictured with former national team manager Martin O'Neill. Credit: Andy McDonnell (ETPhotos)

John Delaney has stepped down as FAI CEO with immediate effect and stepped into the newly-created role of executive vice president.

Chief operating officer Rea Walshe has taken over the role on a temporary basis while the association begins the search for a permanent chief executive.

The new role will include many of the duties previously undertaken by the CEO, including all FIFA and UEFA matters, all tournament bids and the bid to host the 2023 UEFA Women's Champions League final.

Both the chief executive and executive vice president will report to the FAI board of directors but will not sit on the board.

Delaney has recently been embroiled in media speculation regarding the provision of a €100,000 personal loan to the association in April 2017, which was paid back in full two months later.

The association claims the six-figure sum was lodged in its coffers as a ‘short-term bridging loan’ however the sum wasn’t disclosed in the company’s public accounts.

Delaney was scheduled to appear before an Oireachtas committee to answer questions of transparency within the organisation on April 3rd.

Sport Ireland, the government body that distributes public funding to sporting organisations including the FAI, requested ‘urgent clarification’ from the FAI regarding the loan.

The former chief executive made a last-minute bid to have a Sunday Times exposé suppressed by an emergency injunction but was unsuccessful.

The changes come about as a result of a review commissioned by the association and undertaken by Jonathan Hall Associates to examine the senior management structure in Abbottstown.

Hall, who is a former director of governance and director of the FA in England, delivered the report to the association in recent weeks.

The report’s recommendations were adopted unanimously by the FAI board on Friday, March 22nd and the news was publicly revealed following the 1-0 Euro 2020 qualifying win in Gibraltar.

“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,” the report states.

“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.

“A new Chief Executive should be recruited to be responsible for all the other issues typically overseen by a Chief Executive of a national association.

“The new Chief Executive would assume responsibility for leading and managing the executive team at the FAI with appropriate executive support being provided to the Executive Vice-President to carry out the role.

“Both roles should be clearly defined and would report into the Board.

“The new Chief Executive and the Executive Vice-President would need to work closely together in a collaborative manner in line with the updated strategy established by the new Chief Executive and agreed by the Board.”

Delaney said: “It has been my absolute pleasure and privilege to have served the Football Association of Ireland as CEO since 2005.

“I would like to thank all the staff and everyone involved in Irish football for their support and assistance in that time.

“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.”