FAI Glanmire application going ahead; but no guarantee of funding

FAI Glanmire application going ahead; but no guarantee of funding
Screengrab taken from Uireachtas TV of FAI executive vice-president John Delaney giving evidence at the Joint Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport. 

THE FAI have confirmed that an application for funding for the long-planned Glanmire Centre of Excellence will go ahead despite the current controversy surrounding the association’s finances.

However, no assurances were given as to the likely success of the application and it remains to be seen if the project, currently one of the biggest the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) has in motion, goes ahead.

The planned €10m soccer centre is dependent on Government funding to get off the ground, with most of the funds being pursued through the Large Scale Sport Infrastructure Fund, which is closing its application process next Wednesday.

Fresh concerns were raised about the Glanmire project when Sport Ireland this week suspended funding to the FAI amid concerns over a controversial loan by former chief executive John Delaney.

Cork East TD Kevin O’Keeffe raised the Glanmire project with FAI officials, including John Delaney, as they appeared before the Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport yesterday.

Interim chief executive Rea Walshe confirmed the FAI’s intention to lodge its application to the fund and said she was due to sign off those applications today.

However, it looks like the decision on funding will be made while controversy continues to surround the association, as little appeared resolved by yesterday’s committee appearance.

The FAI has been in the eye of a political storm since it emerged that Mr Delaney provided it with a bridging loan in April 2017, to prevent it exceeding its €1.5 million bank overdraft.

The payment, which has raised questions about the FAI's finance and governance arrangements, was not flagged to Sport Ireland.

Yesterday, Mr Delaney made clear he received no interest for the loan.

"I did not receive any interest payment and I would never have expected it, I was only acting to assist the FAI and the benefit of Irish football," he added.

Mr Delaney left his role as chief executive last month in the wake of the loan furore, taking on the newly-created FAI job of executive vice president.

"I accept that the overdraft limit issue arose on my watch as chief executive officer, I wish that it had not happened, but I acted in the best interests of the association,” he told the committee.

"I regret the embarrassment that this entire issue has caused ... but I did it in the best interest of football."

He said he could not make any further comments on the payment, his role as CEO or the finance arrangements at the FAI, due to legal advice.

He referenced a recent ruling by Ireland's Supreme Court that found that another Irish parliamentary committee acted outside of its terms of reference in its questioning of Angela Kerins, a former CEO of the Rehab rehabilitation organisation.

"Given that some members of this Committee have made highly prejudicial public pronouncements about me personally prior to my attendance here today and in light of the recent Supreme Court ruling in the Kerins case, I would ask that the Committee respects this position," he added.

Auditors Grant Thornton have been called in by the FAI to review its accounting records.

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