23 Jul 19
The Irish Sun
FORMER footie boss John Delaney yesterday declined to comment on the spectacular fall of the FAI as he enjoyed a secret weekend away with his girlfriend.
The embattled ex-CEO whisked Emma English away to remote Co Donegal while the crisis-hit soccer association decided the next stage in its future at the weekend.
John Delaney and Emma English haul belongings at hotel
John Delaney shook hands with Irish Sun reporter
Emma and John stroll as he checks phone
Delaney, 51, chose one of the most secluded hotels in the country to stay well clear from the Association’s Emergency General Meeting on Saturday.
And when he was approached by an Irish Sun reporter outside the venue yesterday morning, he said: “Thank you but I would prefer not to speak.”
Weary-looking Delaney, who has been under intense spotlight for four months as the affairs of the FAI came under scrutiny, and his long-term partner checked into the Lakehouse Hotel in Portnoo on Friday evening and left again yesterday morning.
The couple enjoyed walks on the nearby strand but the weather was so disappointing that the pair spent most of their time inside the hotel.
They drove into the nearby village of Glenties one evening but despite the attraction of the MacGill Summer School failed to stop off.
Mr Delaney and Ms English dined in the hotel’s restaurant.
The hotel is the perfect getaway for people who do not wish to be disturbed.
Although the hotel does have its own wi-fi the reception in the area is almost non-existent.
Other diners and staff at the hotel were aware of their well-known guest but did not disturb the couple.
One said: “Everyone knew who John was or knew his face at least. They seemed very relaxed and happy together.
“They were very mannerly and spent most of the time inside the hotel but they did manage to get out and get a couple of walks on the strand.
“They certainly didn’t bring the weather with them as it was dull and overcast for most of the weekend with plenty of rain.
“They certainly didn’t come here for the weather but they did seem very relaxed and nobody bothered them at all.”
Mr Delaney drove to the hotel and parked outside. A surprised Mr Delaney was very polite when approached by the Irish Sun.
Our reporter apologised for disturbing him and asked him if he could speak to him for a short time.
However, the former FAI boss declined to comment.
We shook Mr Delaney’s hand, thanked him for his time and the couple returned to the hotel.
Meanwhile, Sport Ireland Chairman Kieran Mulvey has insisted that neither funding nor Delaney’s €100,000 bridging loan to the FAI were discussed when the pair met for a chat over dinner earlier this year.
In January, we revealed that between 2015 and 2018 the FAI had sought early access to millions of euro of State funding that hadn’t yet been approved.
We also revealed that on January 25 of this year, the FAI requested an early drawdown of 25 per cent of its 2019 funding from Sport Ireland.
It emerged at the weekend that Mulvey met Delaney for dinner earlier this year.
But, speaking to the Irish Sun, Mulvey insisted that issues relating to the FAI finances were not discussed.
He told us: “It wasn’t related to that at all. It was just a chat. He had asked to see me to bring me up to date about things that were happening.
“It was before all that controversy broke out around the €100,000 loan.
“It was before that, and had nothing to do with it. It was just the normal…I meet CEOs from time to time and they update me on what is happening.”
It emerged on Sunday that during a meeting on March 4, Delaney informed the FAI board of his recent activities, which included a dinner with Mulvey.
The specific date of the get together is not known, but Mulvey told the Irish Sun that he believed it was in March.
He said: “I can’t recall exactly. I think it was back in March some time.
“A dinner would be over-describing it. It was a chat over a plate of food in Enniskerry [Co Wicklow].”
“It was a social conversation. He was informing me about what was going on in Uefa, and what they [the FAI] hoped to achieve with the bid for the World Cup, and the distribution of the European Championships.
“That was all really, there wasn’t anything else.”
He continued: “There was no mention of the loan. I think it was well before all that broke. That certainly wasn’t discussed. I have never had any discussion around that at any dinner.”
Mulvey added that such chats with Delaney were infrequent, saying: “I would have had the odd cup of tea or coffee with John Delaney maybe once a year – as I would with other CEOs and presidents.”
Asked if the meeting was something that should have been disclosed, the Sport Ireland chairman replied: “No, it was just a normal conversation.
“You are trying to read something into it that didn’t exist. This was a sit down talk about what was going on, there was no need to declare this to anyone.”
Mulvey was able to confirm that Delaney footed the bill for the encounter.
FAI president has revealed it was the embattled Association itself which alerted a corporate watchdog about issues with their financial accounts.
But Donal Conway refused to make any comment on ex-CEO John Delaney’s €2million golden handcuff package, which is being investigated by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement.
The Irish Sun revealed in May that the bumper loyalty deal was holding up his exit from the crisis-hit FAI.
We also revealed that the ODCE was examining the deal — which never showed up on any of the FAI’s annual returns since it was signed in 2014.
The deferred payment was designed to reward Delaney’s service over the next seven years of his tenure and it is believed to have brought the value of his annual package — once €360,000 salary and expenses are factored in — to in excess of €700,000.
Conway remained tight-lipped on the mega-package — but said the FAI tipped off the ODCE on matters they failed to include in accounts.
He told reporters: “It’s obviously a serious investigation.
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“We flagged to the ODCE ourselves that not all of what should have been reflected in our accounts had been reflected in our accounts.
“How it’s going to end, I’m not sure. I’m not sure how that is going to play out.
“I would say that it is a relatively early stage. How it ends, as I say, I’m not sure.”
John snapped carrying jackets on break