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THE APPEARANCE OF FAI officials before the TDs and Senators this morning was always going to be box office, but yesterday’s developments have upped the ante.

Sport Ireland yesterday decided to suspend funding to the association, heaping yet more pressure on former CEO John Delaney.

Delaney, now executive vice president of the FAI, appeared before the committee and you can follow it all below.

Good morning, Rónan Duffy here for the first part of what’s to be a long and potentially explosive Oireachtas session. 

The meeting has begun in Leinster House but the committee is currently meeting in private session before we start proper. 

So while that’s happening, let’s catch up on what’s happened to date. 

The current furore surrounding the FAI has been set off by the revelation that Delaney provided a €100,000 loan to association in 2017.

The loan was first revealed by the Sunday Times last month and Delaney sought and failed to get an injunction preventing its publication. 

Delaney said this loan was for a “very short-term cash flow issue” but Sport Ireland are amongst those who have demanded greater explanation.

Which is in large part why we’re here.

You can read all that’s been said about ’the €100,000 issue” here:

Journalist Mark Tighe, who broke the story about the €100,000 loan, tweets from outside Leinster House showing photographers ready to snap the FAI delegation. 

And speaking of the delegation, here’s who’s up today:

  • Donal Conway – President of the Board of the FAI
  • Eddie Murray – Honorary Treasurer
  • Paraic Treanor – Chairperson of the Legal and Corporate Affairs Committee
  • Rea Walshe – Interim CEO and former Corporate Affairs and Licensing Director
  • John Delaney – Executive Vice President 

More so than any of his predecessors as head of the FAI, Delaney has a profile in Ireland that reaches beyond football.

Gavin Cooney of outlines that questions over his tenureship and that of the FAI board have been rumbling for some time:

And following the revelations that the FAI paid Delaney’s €3,000-a-month rent during a time in which FAI employees suffered pay cuts: what other expenses and perks have been granted to Delaney and/or other members of the Board?

And how much are they worth?

Added to all of this are the long-term questions that have clung to the FAI Board, notably the disastrously overpricing of Vantage Club tickets that has resulted in an enormous debt burden, and the failure to appoint two independent Board members – a key recommendation of the Genesis Report.

“The €100,000 issue” is not the question mark swirling around the FAI right now. reported on Monday that a second complaint regarding alleged discrepancies in the FAI’s finances has been made to the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement.

Although a complaint had already been made over the €100,000 issue, the new complaint which was made in the last two weeks was made in relation to another matter regarding the FAI’s finances.

Delaney, who is also on Uefa’s executive committee, has arrived and is dressed for the occasion.


Donal Conway, President of the Board of the FAI, speaks first.

In his opening statement, Conway says that Delaney’s change of rule is to “utilise his skills” at international level. 

As you know, John Delaney has been appointed Executive Vice President, in order to effectively utilise his skills and connections at UEFA and FIFA level. In the view of the board, this will be to the benefit of Irish football. In his place, Rea Walshe has been appointed interim Chief Executive Officer, and the Board thanks her for stepping up to this role at short notice, and at a difficult time.

Conway is now speaking about Sport Ireland’s appearance before the committee last week. 

Sport Ireland had complained about the lateness of a letter sent by the FAI to Sport Ireland ahead of that appearance. Conway apologises for the lateness of that letter:

The Association notes the comments made here last week by the Committee and Sport Ireland and acknowledges your concerns. The Board of the FAI met on Wednesday, in a scheduled meeting. The Board regretted that it was not in a position to assist Sport Ireland with answers to its questions before Sport Ireland attended the Committee.

We have met since with Sport Ireland and continue to engage with them. We have emphasised to them that we are moving as fast as we can, being mindful of the complexity of the issues involved, including legal issues and the need to ensure that all statements we make are accurate and our internal and external processes are fair and robust.

No disrespect was intended by the lateness of the letter of the 2nd of April to Sport Ireland or its brief contents.

I apologise for this and accept more information would have assisted Sport Ireland and the Committee.

Conway has been stopped twice during his opening statement, the first time by Rea Walsh and then by Committee Chairman Fergus O’Dowd TD. 

It appears that Conway skipped a page in his statement. 

Conway touches on the €100,000 issue, and says he wants to read into the committee’s records Grant Thornton’s view on it. 

O’Dowd says this is new information and the committee should read it in private session first. 

We have adjourned for 10 minutes. 

Conway is now reading from that review. 

It says that the “cash flow issue” was “unusual” and was not repeated in 2018. 

“It was a short term issue as there was a legitimate expectation of funds soon afterwards.”

It says that Delaney’s cheque provided “immediate financial relief” to the association and that it was “exceptional”.”

It says that “no contract or agreement was entered into between the FAI and then chief executive” and that no interest was incurred on behalf of the association. 


There is a a bit of back and forth between O’Dowd and Delaney ahead of Delaney’s opening statement as the executive vice president has not provided a copy of it to committee members ahead of its delivery, as is usual practice. 

Conway says, “I understand that copies are being made for you at the moment”. 

O’Dowd says he will suspend the public session for 20 minutes while members read Delaney’s statement. 

Delaney says his delivery will take “two or three minutes”. 

Conway is finishing his statement before this happens. 

Following yesterday’s decision by Sport Ireland to suspend funding to the FAI, Conway outlines the importance of State funding to the association:

State funding is of significant importance to FAI in delivering our grassroots programmes, in keeping with our policy of “Football for All”…… For each €1 invested through Sport Ireland funding, the Association matches this with an additional €4, as acknowledged by Sport Ireland. Sport is a very different business to others. The qualification stage process of football is unique. Financial fluctuations are the norm and cashflow is often irregular.

I know you wish to question us about whether the presence of State funding is displacing the use of FAI funds and whether the FAI has the capacity to sustain programmes without State assistance.

I won’t delay now as I know you wish to raise queries on these, except to say we couldn’t do what we do without State assistance.
Similarly, the activities of the FAI help enable the State to meet some of its policy aims, especially in the areas of health and social inclusion.

PastedImage-79551 Source:

Conway is now putting on the record “the recent achievements of the Irish football family at every level”.

“These shouldn’t be lost in the heat of controversy. I am sure if I didn’t these achievements, I would be criticised for not having done in many quarters,” he says. 

Conway mentions victories by the senior men’s team and the under 19 and 17 women’s teams.

He also mentions Ireland’s hosting of the UEFA under 17 European championships next month. 

Those senior men’s victories that Conway referred to were over Georgia and Gibraltar by the way, in case you’re not a football fan.   

Committee member Ruth Coppinger TD has referenced the unusual nature of the committee not getting documents ahead of the meeting.

O’Dowd is seeking clarification on Conway’s statement on the loan. 

Conway says the statement was “verified” by Grant Thornton but adds that the full report is not available to the committee today. 

The committee is now suspended for 20 minutes as members look over Delaney’s opening statement. 

We’re doing a quick switchover here while the committee is suspended ahead of Delaney’s statement.

My colleague Sean Murray is going to be liveblogging for the next while and we’ll have more reaction to the meeting too. 

Cheers, Rónán.

So the committee has broken for new to mull over John Delaney’s statement. And what does it say?

“On legal advice, I am precluded from making any further comments at this hearing in relation to the finances of the Association or my former role as CEO or the €100,000 payment either directly or indirectly,” the statement says.

Delaney’s statement also says he’s there voluntarily, and not in a position to answer such questions.

He also invokes the recent Supreme Court ruling involving Angela Kerins in his statement.

Committee chair Fergus O’Dowd came back briefly there, but now says the committee will go into private session for a further 15 minutes as they continue to mull over Delaney’s statement.

“We want to get this right,” he says.

While we wait for them to come back, my colleague Niall Kelly at has provided details on what new light was shed by FAI president Donal Conway on the €100,000 loan.

“The Association’s position on 25 April 2017 was that if all cheques issued in the week ending 28 April 2017 were cashed/presented at the same time, there was a likelihood of insufficient funds being available to cover all cheques issued, i.e if all cheques issued were presented to the bank.

“This was, however, a short-term issue as there was a legitimate expectation of funds coming to the Association in the short term arising from various income streams that would include ticket sales, sponsorship, grant funding and other sources.

“The CEO provided the Association with a personal cheque for €100,000 and thereby made funds available to provide some immediate financial relief and for the said funds to be used in a context where such additional funding be required by the Association.”

Read more here

Here’s more from Delaney’s statement:

“First of all, I want to say how truly saddened I am that Sport Ireland… have announced that they have temporarily withdrawn their funding to the association pending reports from the FAI, Grant Thornton and Mazars.”

On the €100k loan, he says: “I was advised at this meeting [on 25 April 2017] that if all cheques and FAI bank transfers issued to third parties at that time were presented for payment, the FAI would exceed its overdraft limit of €1.5 million on its bank account which was held with Bank of Ireland.

“At the meeting, I expressed serious concern and surprise as to how the FAI could have arrived at this position. I recall thinking at the time, if I had been approached even a few days earlier, I may have been able to better address the issue.

“As the matter was pressing and we had only a few hours to resolve potential issues that would arise if the bank overdraft was exceeded, as a precautionary measure and to assist the FAI, I wrote a cheque for €100,000 from my personal current account to the FAI.”

In his statement, Delaney also says that there was a board meeting on Monday 19 June 2017 and the “€100,000 payment did not arise”.

“On Monday 4 March 2019, I informed the board of the FAI of the precautionary payment I had made following a media query received from The Sunday Times.”

Back in public session. 

Chair Fergus O’Dowd says he wants to express concerns with the FAI.

He says these statements should have been delivered by midday on Monday, because that’s the way the “committee does business”. He wants to proceed now without a break until 1.45pm.

fergus o'dowd

President Donal Conway speaking again.

He says the “Grant Thornton exercise” is to assist the FAI’s external review, and that the Mazars review is independent. 

“Right now we would see Grant Thornton conducting an investigation and an extra resource to our own staff,” Conway says. “At no stage are we trying to delay answering your question.”


Conway says the internal Grant Thornton review will say internal at this time, and won’t be provided to the committee.

Ruth Coppinger says he should get onto Delaney’s statement, as time is getting on.

O’Dowd says he wants to make sure the process is clear. 

Delaney begins his statement.


Delaney is reading from his statement now. 

You can watch it here:

As per his statement earlier, Delaney says the FAI would have exceeded its overdraft limit if all cheques and bank transfers were presented for payment.

He confirms he wrote a cheque of €100,000. Delaney refers to it as a “precautionary payment”. 

Delaney says he asked when he’d be paid back, and was told “as soon as the funds come in”. 

“I did not receive any interest payment, and I’d have never expected it,” he says.

So, at a board meeting in June, Delaney confirms the €100,000 loan did not arise.

Fast forward to March 2019, and he informed the board after the media query from the Sunday Times.

“I accept that the overdraft issue arose on my watch,” he says. “I wish it hadn’t happened, but I acted in the best interest of the association.”

“I regret the embarrassment the entire issue has caused,” he says. Delaney says he did it for the good of football in Ireland.

Now he says he won’t answer any questions in relation to the €100k loan.

Delaney also accuses members of the Oireachtas Committee of making “highly prejudicial” statements against him, and invokes the Kerins case.

“I would ask the committee respects this position,” he says.

delaney 2

Now Catherine Murphy is asking questions now.

She wants to know if the board first heard of the €100k loan when it was published in the Sunday Times.

Donal Conway says three members of the board would’ve known, and the rest would have been informed at a board meeting in March 2019.

murphy 1

Murphy wants to know more.

“In terms of governance, you were in a precarious situation, you potentially exceeded your overdraft. You had to take these extraordinary measures,” she says.

“That is not something it was felt that the board should know? Who would normally tell the board that kind of information?” she asks.

Conway says chief financial officer, financial controller and honorary treasure would bring a report to the board at a board meeting.

Murphy asks: “Why didn’t it happen on this occasion?”

Conway replies: “Our finances can be quite cyclical.”

Murphy interrupts: “What I’m trying to get to is – this is the way a particular situation was conducted at board level. The board didn’t have sight of a significant loan that was made in case you exceeded the overdraft limits.

“Why would the board be kept in the dark?”

Conway says this is the only occasion a transaction like this occurred. He says this issue is why external consultants have been brought in.

Murphy: “Was there confidence in how this was handled? In hindsight, are you confident this was the right way to handle this?”

Conway says it was a short-term issue, and not something he could see the FAI doing on a regular basis. 

Murphy says: “How could Sport Ireland have confidence that public money that is provided with terms and conditions attached – and that’s part of the reason why they’ve suspended those funds, and I must say I regret the situation we’re discussing – that was a breach of your terms and conditions of receipt of public money.

“And it wasn’t something the board even had sight of. I am astonished this is the way the FAI would have conducted its business at this particular point.”

She’s now talking about who knew about the loan. 

“Can I ask was the board aware the injunction was happening?”

Conway says: “We had a conference call and were informed about what Mr Delaney was doing.”

noely rock

Here’s Noel Rock now asking questions.

“Is the creditor who wasn’t named Dundalk FC?”

Conway says that’s an internal matter. 

Rock says what he’s trying to reach towards is that in Delaney’s statements, is that the cash flow issues came to light on a certain date in April. He suggests these cash flow issues would have become apparent earlier.

Conway says the finances at the FAI regularly fluctuate.

Rock asks if the FAI was close to becoming insolvent.

Conway disagrees: “We’ve had nine consecutive years of profit. Cash flow can be difficult to manage.”

Rock then asks if advanced drawdowns from the FAI of funding from Sport Ireland helped to plug immediate financial gaps at the FAI.

Conway says: “An early drawdown is simply to secure and maintain [sporting] programmes.”

Rock asks if auditors Deloitte were made aware of the €100k loan. Conways says they weren’t.

john o mah

Fine Gael senator John O’Mahony speaking now.

“Who decided not to inform Sport Ireland of the loan?” he asks.

Conway says that awareness of the loan was confined to a small number of people. 

“It was an omission on our part,” Conway says, rather than someone specifically choosing not to say it to Sport Ireland.

O’Mahony is asking about the Jonathan Hall review into the FAI.

“When was that report received by the board?” he asks. In March is the answer.

“How long after receiving it did you make the appointment of Executive Vice President?”

Conway says it was made in a matter of days.

He says: “We had a number of international projects in play. We still have considerable demands in term of running the domestic game. We looked at other countries.”

O’Mahony’s last question: “Are there minutes of the meeting where the appointment was made.”

Conway says there are but are private to the board.

Fianna Fáil’s Robert Troy next.

“This is about restoring public confidence in the FAI,” he says. “It’s about seeking answers.”

Troy says running that organisation is no doubt complex, but “would the board accept the same governance issues from a League of Ireland club?”

robert troy

Conway says that the FAI expects clubs to adhere to their obligations.

Troy asks if some elements of the FAI are more equal than others. Conway says no.

“Last year, Bray Wanderers nearly went to its knees. Why was there not a need to help them?” Troy asks.

He wants an answer from Delaney on that. Delaney won’t answer that though, because it relates to his former role as CEO. 

Troy now wants to know about the creditors who would have been left unpaid if the €100k loan hadn’t been provided.

Conway says: “These are internal, maybe commercially sensitive. I can’t talk about a creditor and their relationship with the FAI.”

Troy now wants to know about a previous statement issued by FAI that said board would have been made aware of issues at all times.

“Who signed off on it?” he asks, and says it is “clearly inaccurate”. 

Conway says he didn’t sign off on the statement. 

john delaney

Conway confirms he didn’t sign off on it. 

Troy says that’s “strange”.

Of the people who can corroborate the version of events surrounding the €100k loan, only Delaney is here and he won’t answer questions, Troy says. 

Conway says the people present today were on the list to attend. 

How was the Jonathan Hall review arranged, Troy asks. Was it tendered?

Conway says that Hall had worked with the FA in England. It wasn’t tendered. The board decided to employ those services.

“Is there a pension in place [for Delaney]?” Troy asks.

Chair Fergus O’Dowd interjects and says FAI doesn’t need to answer that question.

John Delaney has stepped out for a short break.

Sinn Féin’s Imelda Munster asking questions now. 

imelda munster Imelda Munster

Munster is asking about the board signing off on the company accounts.

“You are legally responsible [as the board] for these accounts,” she says. She suggests these accounts are not “true and accurate”, as they don’t mention the €100k loan.

She asks if the FAI is in breach of legislation because of that. 

Interim CEO Rea Walshe says the FAI has notified the ODCE about the matter, and this happened when the matter of the €100k was made public.

rea walshe Rea Walshe

Munster invokes the Genesis Report of 2002 – which recommended numerous changes to the FAI.

“How could you expect people to have confidence, given you said you’re determined to learn what’s happened, if you haven’t corrected all the errors in the past?” she asks.

“Why would a board bring someone else to come into investigate something that the people in this room know the answer to?” Munster also asks. “It appears you’re giving the two fingers to not just Sport Ireland, not just this committee, grassroots, sporting club. You’d have to agree.”

Conway says he doesn’t agree. 

Munster goes on. “It appears the FAI as a board over a long period of time are not accustomed to public scrutiny of this nature,” she adds.

Conway says: “We receive public funding. The scrutiny you refer to correctly follows that.”

He rejects the “two fingers” suggestion. He says Grant Thornton were brought in to assist the FAI.

“I have sat down and worked with [Grant Thornton] for an explanation on the €100k loan. There’ll be more from GT, more in the sense of, we’ve recently appointed a new financial officer. I want GT to be there for some time to help that individual. To make sure how we manage our finance department is done to the highest of standards.”

Munster asks if it’s the case then that work hasn’t been to the highest of standards. 

Conway says this help from Grant Thornton may be well overdue.

Given all that’s come to light, does Conway think it’s good governance that a new position was created that Delaney now occupies? 

“Some might say the FAI board as it currently stands is not fit for purpose given all that’s happened. You haven’t rescinded that position… you declared your commitment to learn from what’s happened,” she says. “If it wasn’t advertised, is that good governance.

“Do you accept that it appears to people as ‘same old, same old’? You’re reflected in a very bad light right across the State,” Munster concludes.

Delaney has returned – but Conway answers.

He says any damage to reputation is a matter of a concern. The appointment of Delaney to EVP was dictated by a series of factors. No other member of the FAI who’s a member of the executive committee of UEFA.

Conway says if there were a number of people who could have fit the role as executive vice president, then it could have been different. There was only person in the FAI who was fit for the job. 

ruth coppinger fai

Ruth Coppinger asks if John Delaney should have told the board about it.

She asks if this kind of serious financial situation happened anywhere else, if there would be serious questions to ask.

“Would the people involved have been asked to step down, pending an investigation?”

Conway says a number of investigations were at play. He says the findings of those will be shared with key stakeholders. 

Coppinger says that given Sport Ireland is now withholding its funding, should Conway have asked Delaney to step down pending an investigation into all this?

Conway says his focus now is working through all this and ensuring Sport Ireland are satisfied enough with the explanations to restore the funding.

Coppinger asks how the new position for Executive Vice President will be funded?

Conway says changes have been made, but he won’t go into it at this time. 


Coppinger now talking about how there was no interview process because the “perfect candidate” existed.

She asks if they’re happy – despite what’s happened – to keep Delaney in place because of his contacts with UEFA.

“Any other issues don’t matter because of his contacts with UEFA?” she asks.

Conway says it’s important to have the best resources in place, and the Jonathan Hall report recommended this.

delaney 5

Coppinger asks if Delaney’s new role is a demotion.

Conway says his new role will serve the FAI better going forward.

Coppiner says Delaney won’t answer questions about his former role or €100k loan, so she wants to ask now about his current role.

“Are you still double-jobbing as executive president, or on UEFA committee?” she asks.

Delaney talks about the roles he occupied.

“I’ll be able to use my strengths in those specific roles to hopefully bring big tournaments to Ireland,” he says.

Coppinger asks if Delaney agrees he should be accountable to the Irish people… she also asks about his salary in relation to the League of Ireland prize money.

O’Dowd interjects that Delaney isn’t obliged to answer that, as the committee only has a certain remit.

There’s a brief interruption as some committee members have to step out.

So that’s that. Coppinger’s questions aren’t answered.

kevin o'keefe

Fianna Fáil’s Kevin O’Keefe up now. 

He’s also asking about FAI accounts. 

He says it’ll be good to get Grant Thornton to verify the information that’s been given to the committee.

Conway says the report from GT hasn’t been completed yet. But the “understanding of the transaction” has been verified with GT.

O’Keefe wants to know if the transaction was legal or illegal. 

“You’re obviously accountable to UEFA and FIFA,” he says. “We’re limited to what we can say to ye… Have they knocked on your door and asked what this is all about?”

Conway says there’s been no contact with FIFA. He says no one has raised any issues with him from UEFA either. 

O’Keefe says the optics don’t look good. 

“In respect of Sport Ireland, they said to us they’d deliberate as well,” he says. He’s talking about Sport Ireland fast-tracking its audit of the FAI’s accounts. 

“Why don’t Sport Ireland fast track their own audit?” 

Chair O’Dowd says “we can ask them next week”. 


Senator Pádraig Ó Céidigh is up now.

“I’m very disappointed that papers were given during the meeting that weren’t given in advance,” he says. “We should have been given them in advance.”

He says Conway has said he wants a stronger FAI. Ó Céidigh says he wants that too. 

“Are there any areas you’d do differently [in governance] in hindsight?” he asks Conway.

Conway says he’s not been there that long.

“A root and branch” look into the organisation is overdue, he says. 

An organisation should look at how well it’s equipped to implement its strategy, he says.

“Given the difficulties we have now, let’s make the most of it,” he says. He says governance needs to get stronger, and adds they’ve asked if Sport Ireland wants to nominate someone to its corporate governance group. 

conway 2

Ó Céidigh points out that Conway has been on the board for over a decade.

“What did you do wrong, that you’re going to do right this time?” he asks. “I want a one sentence answer, please. That’s all.”

Conway says it may take more than one sentence.

He says that after Genesis report they radically changed the board.

The Senator says it’s incredibly unusual the board wouldn’t be made aware of the loan, and incredibly usual it wouldn’t go into the accounts.

“That’s quite significant, particularly in light of you getting a clean audit,” he says. “If there is a trend – €100,000 with €50 million turnover… I find it really difficult to understand. Could you have held off creditors for a little while? Could you have gone to the bank? To me there is a significant disjoint there quite frankly.”

Ó Céidigh now asking about Mazars and Grant Thornton. Who’s paying them?

Conway says the FAI will pay for both. The board reached that decision on foot of advice from advisers, he says. 

The senator asks how Mazars could be independent if the FAI is paying them, and created the scope of their inquiry. 

frank feighan

Senator Frank Feighan is up now.

He wants to know about previous recommendations in the Genesis report. 

Interim CEO Rea Walshe is fielding this one. 

“I wasn’t at the FAI back in 2002,” she says. “I understand a major rehaul took place… There were major consultations with all our stakeholders. The FAI went around the country… what came out of that was the standing committees already in place.”

Feighan asks if sponsors have expressed concern at the current situation.

Conway says he hasn’t directly. He hasn’t asked the commercial director but can.

“The commercial director hasn’t brought anything like that to the board’s attention,” he says.

Feighan then invokes Sepp Blatter’s suspension.

Delaney comes in. He says FIFA has changed under Gianni Infantino, and says UEFA has also come on in the last few years.

“I couldn’t speak higher of how UEFA is run under its current president,” he says. “I could not but commend both organisations as to how they’re ran.”

He’s talking about UEFA having a TV station to bring the League of Ireland to a global audience. 

Conway asked about costs of the various reviews.

He says it’ll be worthwhile in the long run, but doesn’t want to go into it because it could be commercial sensitive.

Senator Mark Daly next.

He praises Delaney for his work in various areas, but then asks if there was €100,000 needed, why was it a cheque and not a bank transfer?

Daly asks why they didn’t go to creditors to ask to hold off for a week or two. He suggests to interim CEO Rea Walshe that the board should be split 50:50 in terms of gender.

He says women’s football should get same amount of resources. “You cannot have the ladies football team handing over tracksuits in an airport,” he says. 

mark daly

Delaney steps out again.

Conway says “equality is not the issue”. He says there is very high female participation in its activities.

“In excess of 40% of participants is female,” he says of teenage age groups.

Daly wants to ask more. Chair O’Dowd says his 10 minutes are up.

“They’re not up,” he exclaims. 

They are, O’Dowd insists.

The chair now asks about accountability. He asks the FAI if it’s not the case at the FAI AGM you can’t ask a question without giving prior notice.


He says grassroots who play the game.

“Those children are being deprived of the support we want to give them as taxpayers,” O’Dowd says.

“My question is: what are you going to do about it?”

Conway says that Sport Ireland has suspended funding.

“We’ll be engaged with them,” he says. “Sport Ireland will have the findings and the full report of that review.”

O’Dowd says that even after the FAI told Sport Ireland this, they still decided to suspend funding.

Conway says they’ll deal with the issues “head on”. 

O’Dowd says that what people want is change. “And they want it now,” he says. 

Conway says he knows there are many long-serving members of the board, but four have only been there for a few years.

O’Dowd says that in various FAI statements, different words were used to describe the €100k loan.

“Your language keeps changing. The money stays the same,” he says.

He talks about some people on the board had no awareness of the loan.

“Would I want my children get involved tomorrow? People want real change. Would you do a forensic audit? Would that make a difference, and would you do it?”

Conway says that between Grant Thornton and Mazars, they will be “very, very thorough examinations of the FAI”.

O’Dowd says a forensic audit is a different type of audit. It’s different, and he wants to know if the FAI would do it. 

Conway doesn’t say explicitly that the FAI would do it.

O’Dowd says that – over the lunch break – that the FAI really consider regime change.

Senator John O’Mahony back up.

He says the record of governance at the FAI is not anywhere near where it should be, given that the Genesis report recommended independent board members. This did not take place, he says.

O’Mahony also mentions staff turnover – particularly financial directors.

Conway says they’ve had financial directors change every four to five years.

He’s now listing the names of senior people who’ve left in recent times.

“The average turnover – we’ve a staff of approximately 200. We have an average staff turnover of 10%,” he says. 

Delaney speaking now about Genesis Report.

He says recommendations on travel arrangements in that report have come on “leaps and bounds”. He says Mick McCarthy has commented on the improvements.

O’Mahony asks if he’s quoting Delaney incorrectly to say he wouldn’t rest until there were two independent directors at the FAI.

Delaney says he didn’t say that.

O’Dowd is now calling a break.

That’s it for now.

Meeting suspended.

Snap summary of what’s happened so far:

  • John Delaney has told the Oireachtas Committee that he gave €100,000 to the FAI as a loan in April 2017 after he was advised the FAI was about to exceed its €1.5 million overdraft limit.
  • In his statement, he said he is precluded from answering questions about this loan on legal advice.
  • In one exchange with Fianna Fáil’s Robert Troy, the committee also heard Delaney did not have to answer questions about his previous role as CEO – which he left just over two weeks ago.
  • A number of TDs – including Ruth Coppinger and chair Fergus Dowd – asked if it would have been better if senior FAI members had stepped aside following these revelations. O’Dowd said that over lunch, the FAI representatives should consider “regime change”.

That’s it from me for the moment. Back to Rónán Duffy now for a bit.

Committee is back up at 3pm.

Rónán here again. 

Well if we were at half-time, this from the Irish Sun’s Neil O’Riordan is probably the best sporting analogy of what’s happened so far.

If you missed the earling committee session, this is where John Delaney briefly addressed the €100,000 loan and said he would not be answering further questions about it or indeed his former role as CEO.

PastedImage-15068 Source: Leah Farrell/

In the interests on following through, here’s the Uefa jacket we told you about earlier that Delaney turned up in. 

Delaney’s international connections were cited a number of times by Donal Conway as among his primary assets in his new role as executive vice president. 

Here we go again, Seán Murray back with you to guide you through the rest of the committee hearing. 

“We must finish at 6pm,” O’Dowd says.

Noel Rock up first. He’s asking Eddie Murray – the honorary treasurer – if he was aware of the €100k loan. 

noel rock

He says he wasn’t but it wasn’t an undermining of his role. 

“I would have expected that information would have been given to me prior to the signing off of the accounts,” he says.

He’s also asking if the FAI has always had a valid tax clearance certificate. That will be clarified for the deputy afterwards.

Rock asks if there were ever any other loans given by senior employees.

Conway and Murray say not to their knowledge.

Rock now says according to accounts for 2015, the overdraft facility in that year was €1.9 million.

If that was the case, why couldn’t it be extended to that in 2017, and thus negate the need for the €100k loan, Rock asks.

Murray says it came as a consequence of a change in banking facilities.

eddie murray

An odd one here.

The FAI’s new financial controller is sitting behind the main delegation. Coppinger suggests he sit alongside his colleagues.

Rock now talks about Sporting Fingal – he says they were faced with the prospect of not paying players because prize money was being withheld.

He asks Murray if it’s a practice of withholding prize money from teams.

Murray says that’s not the case. “I can assure you that’s not a policy in the association,” he says. 

michael healy

Michael Healy-Rae is up now. 

He’s talking about doing business. “Hindsight is of great benefit to all of us,” he says.

“I think I’d be quite confident in saying the only thing you could be accused of is being passionately committed to your job,” Healy-Rae says. “I think your work ethic over the years will show you’re eminently qualified for this new role.

“From every club from the grassroots up – your personal reputation is second to none in my humble opinion.”

O’Dowd interrupts: “The deputy has two minutes left.”

Coppinger: “We’re meant to be asking questions of them.”

Healy-Rae says he wants to remind people of what John Delaney has done.

He’s listing lots of stuff.

The Kerry TD says if it wasn’t for Delaney a park that they wanted for 45 years wouldn’t be opened.

“You’ll get a warm welcome in Kerry,” he says. “If you’re guilty of anything, you’re just trying to help…”

Coppinger interrupts and says she has a problem with someone making a “statement” for three minutes, when they’re not on the committee – which Healy-Rae isn’t. 

johnnie o'brien

Sinn Féin’s Jonathan O’Brien now.

He wants to know how many bank accounts the FAI has.

A bit of a row again.

The financial controller is there, but FAI’s Conway says he’s not on the list of those to speak. 

They’re trying to figure out seating arrangements.

“I don’t care where he sits,” O’Brien says. 

O’Brien now talking about how football clubs must provide monthly financial statements.

He asks if a club got a financial injection would it have to include it in its monthly statement.

“Surely somebody from the FAI knows the answer,” he says.

Conway says a business they’d have to.

“The €100k loan – that wasn’t recorded in the monthly financial statements of the FAI?”

“Not separately, no,” Murray says.

“Can you tell me why? I’m not asking the purpose of the loan. I’m asking why…”

Conway says new financial controller Alex O’Connell is new in the job, and financial matters will be addressed.

“If I’m given time, I’ll establish that exactly for you,” Conway says.

“How much time do you need?” O’Brien asks. Conway answers he’ll try get it tomorrow.

murphy cath

O’Dowd is pressed for time. They’re moving on now.

Catherine Murphy up now.

“Clearly, most of us would have wanted to ask questions of the former CEO,” she says. She asks if Conway knew Delaney wouldn’t answer questions.

Conway says he knew yesterday. He says the legal advice at play here is exclusive to Mr Delaney.

“Are you confident that there’s no other financial issues in recent years that would cause you concern?” she asks. 

Conway says: “My confidence – and what confidence I have – will be built around Mazars…”

Murphy interrupts: “I’m asking about now.” She wants to know if Conway has concerns now.

Conway says it may very well be that processes could have been better. 

How long more will Grant Thornton be there?

Conway isn’t sure.

Murphy now says there’s been changes related to the rules of the treasurer. Prior to that it was up to the treasurer for establishing an audit committee, now she says it’s the board. Why did that happen she asks?

Any recent rule changes was part of our task of adhering to the governance code, Conway replies. 

She says treasurer didn’t know about the loan.

“Are you not embarrassed by this, Mr Murray? If I was the treasurer, and it had escaped my notice that I had primary responsibility on the board, and I wasn’t told. I’d be furious,” she says.

Murray says it was “unsatisfactory”. 

Murphy’s talking now about having independent people on the board.

“It seems to me very passive that this type of thing would go unnoticed,” she says. “Is it a challenging board?”

Murray says it is a challenging board. 

“Our turnover is €50 million a year. That’s a relatively small amount… A figure of €100,000 wouldn’t stick out,” he says.

Noel Rock back again.

He’s asking the treasurer more questions.

Rock says he’s gone through the company statements and Bank of Ireland was the same bank as far back as 2016.

Murray says the FAI changed banks and the overdraft of 2015 – €1.9 million – changed.

Rock presses O’Connell – financial controller – on the matter of the overdraft. O’Connell says that as he wasn’t there, he doesn’t have much information on 2015, 16.

Conway says that information will be furnished during the next break. 

Rock wants to know when the Jonathan Hall review was ordered by the FAI – before the Sunday Times first asked about the €100k loan or after.

Conway says it was likely after, but that discussions had taken place beforehand in February.

He cites how Ireland joined bids for several international tournaments. 

“We would love to get that 2023 championship – would CEO be able to manage all that?” Conway says, as this initiated conversations about changing Delaney’s role.

Rock wants to know now if drafts of the Jonathan Hall report came before the FAI. Conway says any changes made to the final version weren’t significant.

Conway says the decision to adopt the recommendations happened in a board meeting that happened by telephone. 

One final question from Rock – “The pdf you sent us of the Hall report, when was this received? Is it the same one you were presented?”

He says that the document was created during the Gibraltar match a day later.

Senator John O’Mahony again.

He wants to know if new financial director has spoken to the previous one to get answers to these questions.

Conway moves in: “Here’s here a few weeks. He came as an observer… Our former finance director will be engaged with the reviews that are in place.”

O’Connell says there would have been a handover with his predecessor.

Robert Troy asking questions now.

He’s talking about Conway’s statement. “You said ‘we have much work to do’… Can I say, this is your opportunity to start this process. Even if you have no time for us gathered here. You can address your patrons.

“You have been evasive, vague, non-committal… you have answered what you’ve chosen to answer. You were asked about a severance package. You chose to answer that. You were asked about a pension. You refused… You are hiding behind the Grant Thornton report. You are hiding behind the Mazars report.”

Conway says he never set out to disrespect anyone.

He never wanted to give the impression that they don’t care what committee members think.

“If it’s about contracts, or employees or something that’s commercially insensitive, or an individual creditor – if these are things I haven’t answered directly on, and it’s called evasive,” Conway says he can’t do anything about that.

Troy says the perception outside is that the board of the FAI is a cartel that is “closing rank”, and also a perception that they aren’t being honest with the public.

He asks if it’s now best practice the new CEO isn’t a board member, why hadn’t it been before now?

robert troy 2

Conway’s talking about the 2002 Genesis Report. He says Delaney was a key figure in implementing that report.

At the time, they felt it best that the CEO be on the board, he says. 

Troy asks how the board felt they could hold the CEO to account if that CEO was on the same level as them in the board. He also asks if Conway thinks governance was always under review during his time as a board member and his time as chairman of the board.

Conway says that the way FAI evolved post-Genesis is that members came to committees from grassroots.

He talks through how he came to be on the board, but the reviews now will look at if those methods are appropriate going forward.

conway 3

Troy’s last point is about Sport Ireland suspending the funding.

He says Sport Ireland suspended funding to the Olympic Council of Ireland in the past, and didn’t restore it until the make up of the board changed.

Will key members on the board of the FAI step down if it’s a requirement before Sport Ireland funding is restored?

Conway says: “We have a number of processes in play, and we’re not going to discount the outcome.”

Troy: “That was a very direct yes or no question.” He repeats the question. 

Conway: “We will not jeopardise sports council funding, so we’ll take whatever action we have to take.”

Sinn Féin’s Imelda Munster is back up, now.

She wants to know how – if three members of the board knew about €100k loan – the board could sign off on accounts.

“When the lodgement was made to the account, did it go under John Delaney’s name? And did it say the purpose of it?”

Conway says it was a personal cheque from John Delaney, but would have to ask someone in the finance department if it listed the exact purpose on it. 

Munster asks what was wrong with the accounts, that the FAI wrote to the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement.

Conway says he doesn’t want to comment on that. 

munster 1

Munster says the whole country is now watching the FAI, and they’re saying “scarlet for you”.

She asks if Delaney ever considered his position, or offered his resignation.

“I’ve made my statement,” he says. 

Munster says Delaney has “behaved disgracefully today”.

She says that he refuses to answer questions related to ongoing matters as CEO. She says it’s “farcical”.

Delaney says he’s “noted” her comments.

Jonathan O’Brien is back.

He has an answer to his question of how many bank accounts the FAI has. It’s 24.

Do all of them have overdraft facilities?

Just the one.

Was this the same bank account that if all the cheques and transactions had come in, there’d be concerns related to it, O’Brien asks.

Financial controller O’Connell says it is.

Typically they’d pay prize money from clubs to that account – the money would be received from UEFA from another account. 

O’Dowd interrupts to say that O’Brien must be careful of his questions – and references the ‘Supreme Court case’.

“The fact is the Supreme Court has commented on the role of chair in the Kerins case,” O’Dowd says. “There’s no big deal here… I don’t want to prevent anyone from asking a question… None of us will make little of the legal issues we’ve got.”

o'brien 2 Jonathan O'Brien

“The only remit we have legally in terms of funding here is the funding from Sport Ireland,” O’Dowd says. He says if FAI don’t wish to answer on some matters, they don’t have to.

O’Brien finally asks: “The bank account that the concerns were in relation to – that if all the cheques were processed – is that the main bank account?”

It is. “Is that the same account that prize money is paid to clubs from?”

O’Dowd says it’s up to the witness whether or not to answer. O’Connell says “that is our main account that we pay most suppliers from”. 

There are a number of bank accounts where monies are paid into – and then transferred to this main account, he says, before going to clubs.

O’Brien suggests that monies would be present in other accounts – so it could be transferred to that main account. In the case of prize money, for example, that money for that club would be sitting in another account, he suggests, which wouldn’t create a cash flow issue.

He says he’s trying to establish that there are different types of creditors – and if it was the case that there are only certain creditors that would create a cash flow issue. 

Conway says that all the interests around that is something he’s not comfortable getting into.

O’Brien asks if it’s a fair assessment that there are only certain types of creditors that would have the potential to create a cash flow issue.

Conway says he feels constrained from answering.

They’re due to break now.

TDs are angry at the prospect of a 25 minute break. 

“Why do we need 25 minutes?” Coppinger asks. She’s not impressed. 

So that’s that. When they come back at 4.45pm, there’ll only be an hour and 15 minutes left.

O’Dowd said earlier that they have to finish at 6pm.

My colleague from Gavin Cooney has highlighted this aspect that’s worth revisiting.

Ruth Coppinger certainly wasn’t happy with the statement made by Michael Healy-Rae praising Delaney earlier.

And we’re back again.

O’Dowd reiterates that they’re on a 6pm deadline.

No added time for stoppages.


Ruth Coppinger asking questions now as we resume.

She wants to ask John Delaney some questions.

“I’m finding this process frustrating,” she says. She says the public would’ve expected the person most prominent in this would be answering questions.

“Do you think this is the most serious situation the FAI has been in, in terms of the withdrawal of funding from Sport Ireland?” she asks. 

“Does he acknowledge his role in that?” she asks. 

She’s talking about this €100k loan coming in the same year as the women team’s protest, and asks if his salary played a role in the financial sustainability of the organisation. 

Conway begins to answer that Delaney has indicated he wouldn’t answer questions from his former role as CEO.

“I don’t think you should be answering for him,” Coppinger says. 

delaney 6

Delaney refers back to his earlier statement, and how he felt about the loan at the time. 

“I’d like to think during my term as CEO – turnover and sponsorships and much additional revenue was generated in that period,” he adds.

Coppinger then asks about pay cuts, and stories she’s heard of workers at that time.

Delaney refers the question to Conway. He says that pay has now been restored. 

Coppinger wants to know about a statement issued by the FAI on the board’s awareness of the loan in mid-March.

Conway says it was issued by the communications department. “The statement gives the wrong impression which we corrected prior to today,” he says.

You don’t see this from the Oireachtas feed when they’re on a break, that’s for sure.

Coppinger wants to know if there any League of Ireland clubs are debt free.

Interim CEO Rea Walshe says that can be checked out.

Coppinger wants to know if Delaney knows.

He says his new role as EVP deals with UEFA and FIFA. He says he doesn’t think the financial affairs of 20 companies are relevant to this committee.

FAI President Conway says: “The support we give the clubs is not just a matter of writing a blank cheque for a club.”

He says youth teams have been set up for these clubs, and these are the best players in the country.

“Now those best young players will move through the ranks at our League of Ireland clubs,” he says.

kevin o keefe

Kevin O’Keefe is back.

How often in the last few years has the FAI breached its overdraft facilities?

Conway doesn’t know of any breach. 

“Now that Sport Ireland has suspended funding, will it affect the FAI’s cash flow facilities moving ahead? Could it have an immediate impact? How long do ye think ye can survive? Weeks? Months?” O’Keefe asks.

Conway says that if the FAI restores confidence of Sport Ireland in the FAI – the next tranche of funding will come through as normal. “That is urgently our aim,” he says.

The money is spent on key grassroots programmes.

“We don’t want any of that harmed, and I don’t envisage any of that harmed,” Conway says.

O’Keefe now wants to know how wages are calculated.

Delaney says there’s always been a sub committee on the board to calculate salaries.

“Do you think you took your eye off the ball being so involved in UEFA?” he asks.

Delaney says he would have met most of the deputies here during his visits to grassroots football. Yet he also worked a number of other duties.

“I have a 16-year-old daughter I might not see for a month,” Delaney says. 

A politician piped up off camera there. He has to go off for another vote, but promises he’ll be back.

He jokingly blames Shane Ross for holding another vote.


Senator Pádraig Ó Céidigh is back now.

He wants to know who is in attendance from the FAI.

There’s some confusion over one of the people there.

After a brief pause, Conway says this individual is there to provide legal advice to John Delaney. 

o ceidigh

Ó Céidigh is asking about training the members of the board have gotten.

“Can you confirm you’re all happy and satisfied that all relevant disclosures have been made during your time on the board?” he asks.

Conway says he is of the view they have been compliant.

The Senator asks then “was there any time that any of the board members were concerned about the ‘going concern’ of the business?”. In essence, were they ever worried that the business could wind up, given that this €100k was so necessary at that time in 2017.

“If you were down to €100k with €50 million turnover, I’d be worried,” he says.

The treasurer Murray answers. He says he never had any worries. 

Ó Céidigh now asking bank accounts, going back to what Jonathan O’Brien was asking earlier.

Was this main bank account the one that this €100k was required to be lodged to?

Financial controller O’Connell says it was.

Before he finishes, Ó Céidigh says its hugely important that we have somebody on the board of UEFA.

It was Frank Feighan who had to dash off. He’s not back yet. 

Senator Mark Daly back up now. He also wants to talk about bank accounts.


In the other bank accounts the FAI had, was there not €100k in it between them?

The new financial controller says he’s not aware, as he wasn’t there.

Daly isn’t happy with that.

He’s also discussing drafts of the Jonathan Hall report. He wants to know if the committee will get the drafts and then the final report?

Conway says this was an operational matter. 

Daly says he’s had experience before where a draft of a report and the final report have had marked differences, where negative aspects were removed.

Daly says that the FAI should’ve known the €100k was coming for a while.

“It seems to have been a bill – how long was it outstanding for? How long did you have to pay it?” he asks.

The Senator says he’s concerned that they had “loads of money” in other accounts, he wants to know what the money was for.


Conway says the money was trying to prevent a breach of overdraft. He says he can’t go into what the money was for.

Conway then says the financial controller of the time lodged the cheque so he must have had a concern that a payment must be met.

Daly is concerned that the FAI cannot explain the circumstances – “what was the terms of credit related to that specific bill?”. 

Conway says he can’t go into that. 

Just a half an hour left.

Daly says he doesn’t want to know who it was for – just the category it fell under and the terms of credit.

“How long did you have to pay that €100,000?” Daly asks. There’s no answer.

We’re onto Senator Frank Feighan now, who’s back. 

frankie feighan

He wants to come at it from a different way, he says.

Feighan says that Sport Ireland CEO John Treacy refused to say last weekend that he had confidence in the FAI board.

He wants to know why Sport Ireland has audited the FAI more often than other sports bodies.

Conway says he’s not sure how other bodies have been audited.

Feighan asks that if this happened again tomorrow, would they do it differently rather than get a €100k loan from an employee.

Conway says he doesn’t want it to happen again. The Grant Thornton review will help the FAI to reform its processes, he says. 

Interesting. He invokes the idea of an all-Ireland soccer team. He says if the IFA – football association in Northern Ireland – was looking at this, they might not want to get involved with the FAI.

“I think this has been very, very damaging” in terms of the future creation of an all-Ireland soccer team, Feighan concludes.


The chair O’Dowd is now asking questions.

He asks about contact with Sport Ireland since meeting with FAI on Friday.

Conway says he received notification from Sport Ireland CEO John Treacy informing him of the funding being cut.

He says Sport Ireland didn’t indicate funding would be cut last Friday. 

O’Dowd says: “Something very strange has happened. I’m trying to understand it.”

He wants to know if there’s anything else has arisen of concern about the FAI’s operation.

O’Dowd says that he knows people who’ve given their life for the sport.

But the corporate governance at the FAI is totally inadequate, he says.

The chair says there’s a lot of uncertainty, and the best thing the FAI could do is “move on”.

If new people came in, he says, citing the example of the Olympic Council – it could make a difference.

“The picture in my mind is of all of those young people going out to play tonight, and Saturday, and buying them football boots… I need to say that to you,” he says before giving out to the floor again.

We have 15 minutes left.

Jonathan O’Brien is going to repeat a question. 

“Was the €100k mentioned in the monthly financial accounts?”

Conway says the FAI will take that back to Abbotstown.

On O’Dowd’s comments, Conway says none of them have a divine right to be on the board.

They came through the clubs and their respective committees, he says.

“It wasn’t a case that you find yourself on a board table and forever after you’re at a board table,” he says. Conway says they’re volunteers, and all they want to do is to advance the game.

“That gives you no right to sit on a board endlessly,” he says. “The children you talk about are the children we’re in this game for… that’s the commitment that keeps us here.”

O’Dowd shoots back that it is because of the actions of the board that funding is now being denied to those children. 

Catherine Murphy back for a final time.

She wants to know if Delaney ever asked that this committee should never takes place.

Delaney says it’s not in his power that this committee meeting doesn’t take place.

Robert Troy again.

He’s asking again about who issued the FAI statement that mentioned the board was kept updated about the €100k loan at all times.

“I wasn’t aware we had the director of communications here with us today,” he says.

Conway isn’t sure if his director of communications was in place at that time. 

“You’re still unaware of who signed off?” Troy asks. That will be clarified, the FAI says.

Troy asking treasurer Murray now about Delaney donating his UEFA salary back to the FAI.

Conway answers that matters related to salary wouldn’t be discussed.

Troy says he’s asking about donations. “I would expect the treasurer to be in a position to know that,” he says.

Conway says they won’t be answering that.

Troy says he would have expected far more openness and transparency from the FAI.

“That’s what the general public would have expected today,” he says. 

Coppinger: “I think today’s proceedings are going to reaffirm people’s cynicism about the political process and the FAI. It doesn’t give me any pleasure to say that. You’ve come here armed with lawyers and legal advice.”

O’Dowd says they’re entitled to get legal advice.

Coppinger says Delaney is here physically but it’s “Hamlet without the Prince”.

“I hope journalists note how toothless parliament has become because of legal threats,” she says.

“The board has moved Mr Delaney aside. Because of his connection with UEFA, they’re willing to keep him. I just think has been very frustrating for a lot of people and changes need to be made.”

Jonathan O’Brien wants to know if all of the FAI’s bank accounts are audited. They are, is the answer.

Delaney issued a personal cheque – O’Brien says it didn’t go into the main bank account. 

“It went into one bank account – it was transferred into the main bank account,” he says. “I presume as part of the audit, that cheque stub was handed to the auditors. I would assume the money paid back to Delaney in June was from the main bank account so there’d be a corresponding cheque stub.”

He wants to know if that info was given to the auditors.

O’Dowd asks FAI President Donal Conway for closing remarks.

“We take that very seriously,” he says, on the issue of being given public funding.

The FAI also takes governance very seriously, he concludes.

So that’s that. 

Meeting adjourned. 

So that’s that.

A long day in Committee Room 4, as TDs and Senators pressed the FAI on the €100k loan from former CEO John Delaney to the organisation.

Delaney spoke rarely over the 5+ hours that the committee was in session, with most of the questions fielded by FAI President Donal Conway.

On legal advice, Delaney said at the outset in his statement – which was given to committee members this morning – that he wouldn’t be answering questions about the €100k loan.

Later, it was made clear he wouldn’t answer questions related to his former role as CEO either.

Here are some of the highlights from today:

Delaney’s opening statement


Committee chair intervenes as politicians question John Delaney


Michael Healy-Rae praises John Delaney


Imelda Munster says Delaney “behaved disgracefully”


“€100k is a small amount of money relative to the FAI’s turnover”


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About the author:

Rónán Duffy


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