De­laney: Rev­elry is be­hind me

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Sport - - SOCCER - JOHN FAL­LON

FAI chief ex­ec­u­tive John De­laney has dis­tanced him­self from Michel Pla­tini, in­sist­ing there’s no way back into UEFA for the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s former pres­i­dent. FIFA hit the former French cap­tain Pla­tini with an eight-year sus­pen­sion from all foot­ball ac­tiv­ity in 2015 for re­ceiv­ing what they branded a “dis­loyal pay­ment” of €1.5m. Pla­tini de­nied the pay­ment was im­proper and will be clear of the ban in Oc­to­ber 2019 af­ter hav­ing it halved un­der ap­peal.

De­laney, now a mem­ber of the UEFA ex­ec­u­tive, was con­sid­ered a close ally of the French­man, ev­i­denced by Pla­tini of­fi­cially open­ing their head­quar­ters in Ab­bot­stown in 2007 and the FAI sup­port­ing his bid to suc­ceed Sepp Blat­ter as head of the world’s gov­ern­ing body.

De­laney con­firmed he has had no con­tact with Pla­tini. Asked whether Pla­tini could mount a come­back to the front­line of foot­ball ad­min­is­tra­tion, De­laney was un­equiv­o­cal. “He’s got his ban re­duced, but no,” he em­pha­sised.

“We have a re­ally good new pres­i­dent in Alek­sander Ce­ferin and a strong board that in­cludes former Manch­ester United chief ex­ec­u­tive David Gill and Ivan Gazidis, the cur­rent chief ex­ec­u­tive of Arse­nal. There is a new breed there with a lot of new board mem­bers, so UEFA is run­ning well.”

De­laney, who presided over an un­event­ful FAI AGM in Cork yes­ter­day, has no in­ten­tion of de­part­ing his cur­rent role to up­grade his part-time po­si­tion with UEFA. In­stead, he is plan­ning be­yond the ex­pi­ra­tion of his lat­est con­tract in 2020. He was elected FAI trea­surer in 2001, gain­ing promotion to the top post four years later.

De­laney was also adamant that the era of late-night rev­elry is be­hind him. “There is not too much time for late nights — nor should there be,” he said. “I’d ac­cept that. I’m in work most morn­ings at 7am which is my work ethic. I’m 50 now and must say that I feel great. I do a bit of run­ning and it helps me feel fit.

“If you haven’t got drive in any job, then you shouldn’t be there, and I’ve got plenty of drive. Once the mem­bers of the FAI want me to stay there, of course I will. The cen­te­nary of the FAI is com­ing up in 2021 which will in­volve a na­tional foot­ball ex­hi­bi­tion and a year of events.

“There is al­ways some­thing. If I lose the en­ergy or the mem­bers say it is time for a change, then I’ll go. As long as both of those are in place, I’m happy.”

Mean­while, De­laney promised the 113 del­e­gates at the Rochestown Park Ho­tel yes­ter­day that the debt on the Lans­downe Road sta­dium will be cleared by 2020.

The as­so­ci­a­tion is cur­rently car­ry­ing al­most €40m of fi­nan­cial li­a­bil­i­ties, chief amongst it a €29m loan to Bank of Ire­land. “There will be no com­pro­mise here,” he said. “We can achieve this through both pru­dent fi­nan­cial op­er­a­tions and by con­tin­u­ing to in­vest in the game.”

Donal Con­way has suc­ceeded Fitzger­ald as the FAI’s Pres­i­dent four-year term. Tony on a

JOURNALIST Marie Crowe has won the FAI Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Award for Best Fea­ture for her poignant in­ter­view with Derry City man­ager Kenny Shiels, pub­lished in the Sun­day In­de­pen­dent last Oc­to­ber. Crowe was named as the win­ner of the award at Fri­day night’s FAI del­e­gates din­ner in Cork, part of the As­so­ci­a­tion’s Fes­ti­val of Foot­ball week.In the af­ter­math of Ryan McBride’s tragic death, Crowe trav­elled to Maghera to meet with Shiels, who spoke about the ef­fect the death of his cap­tain had on his team and him as a man­ager. He also re­counted the trau­matic events around the mur­der of his brother David.

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