FAI supremo John Delaney could be returning to Kerry this weekend but considering the current controversy surrounding his tenure, it’s difficult to predict what kind of reception he’ll receive if he does.
The latest alleged financial improprieties uncovered by the Sunday Times relate to payments totalling €60,000 that were apparently made by the FAI in 2013 and 2014 to Delaney’s then girlfriend, Susan Keegan.
It is believed that a number of board members were unaware of the transactions, which the Sunday Times say were recorded in the FAI’s accountancy system. For her part, Ms Keegan denies receiving any payments from John Delaney or from the FAI.
On the back of reports in the same paper which exposed the mysterious €100,000 “bridging loan” given to the FAI by Delaney, and the revelations that he once racked up €40,000 on his company credit card over a six-month period, it certainly seems as though the net is now closing on Delaney and other senior FAI officials in Abbotstown.
Honorary Secretary Michael Cody and Honorary Treasurer Eddie Murray have already resigned and the FAI have confirmed that the entire board will be stepping down at the association’s AGM in July. Considering the seriousness of the allegations, some observers have also suggested that Delaney and co. could potentially be facing prosecution.
Despite the ongoing scandal, Delaney, who is currently on “gardening leave”, was due to come to Kerry on Saturday to attend the opening of Castleisland AFC’s new all-weather pitch. The FAI confirmed on Thursday that he will not be part of their official delegation but it is still thought that he may attend in a personal capacity.
Whether or not he receives “the mother of all welcomes”, as suggested by Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae, remains to be seen, although he is likely to be well-received by Castleisland AFC and Kerry District League officials.
KDL Secretary John O’Regan, who is a member of the FAI Senior Council and a personal friend of Delaney’s, has repeatedly defended the ex-CEO in recent weeks and the league’s official stance on the matter is unlikely to change now.
LAST WEEK’S ARTICLE
However, if the reaction to last week’s opinion piece on Delaney and Kerry soccer is anything to go by, public opinion in this part of the world is quite different to the one portrayed by the men in charge of the Kerry league.
Feedback to the article, which was titled ‘Delaney’s backers should be ashamed’, has been overwhelmingly positive, with many Kerry readers commenting that they were pleased to see their views being accurately represented in the media.
The story got a lot of traction on social media, particularly on Twitter where it was shared and commented on by hundreds of disgruntled soccer fans from all over Ireland.
A number of journalists from the nationals also picked up on the article, including Mark Tighe of the Sunday Times, the man responsible for breaking the John Delaney scandal a little over a month ago.
Meanwhile, the anecdotes about the state of Kerry soccer also appear to have struck a chord. Since the article was published I have been inundated by messages from players, officials and supporters who are deeply unhappy with the way that Kerry soccer is being run, and many have shared their own frankly shocking experiences with the KDL down through the years.
Whether or not Delaney’s allies at regional level will continue to dominate Irish soccer in his absence remains to be seen but one thing is now certain, the majority of soccer people in Kerry are desperate for things to change.
Pic: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile.