By Andrew Warshaw
April 18 – A joint British and Irish bid to stage the 2030 World Cup has been handed a potential setback following the demise of former Football Association of Ireland (FAI) chief executive John Delaney.
Delaney’s colourful and controversial career as an influential voice in European football administration is hanging by a thread after the FAI announced he had offered to step aside as its executive vice-president with immediate effect amid increasing criticism over an authorised loan he provided in 2017 that called into question serious governance issues.
Last month Delaney, a member of UEFA’s executive committee, dramatically quit as the FAI’s chief executive just days before he appeared in front of a parliamentary committee to be quizzed about the €100,000 personal loan and instead moved straight into a face-saving position as executive vice-president with responsibility for all FIFA and UEFA matters.
But with half of the federation’s €2.7 million state funding suspended in the wake of the storm, Delaney has hardly had time to take up his newly created job.
John Treacy, chief executive of Sport Ireland, was quoted as saying Wednesday that Delaney “isn’t part of the FAI any more. He is on gardening leave, or whatever the description is.”
Delaney’s fall from grace could potentially impact on the growing likelihood of a British and Irish World Cup bid since he has been playing a leading role in presenting the Irish case for sharing the tournament.
UEFA boss Aleksander Ceferin has long made it clear that he favours only one 2030 bid from Europe to take on the favourites, a three-nation South American bid. Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez has been quoted as saying his country would definitely like to join forces with Portugal and Morocco while a Balkan bid has also been mooted.
Insideworldrootball has learned that earlier this month the five British and Irish national associations met with Ceferin at Wembley on the fringes of the Equal Game conference.
“We wanted to bring him up to speed on what we were doing in order to hopefully help us become that favoured bid,” said a source close to the talks. “Ireland brings more to the table than it takes away and we were given encouragement to carry on but what has happened with John will not have gone unnoticed by UEFA.”
“No-one wants to start going out on the campaign trail, only for other skeletons to come out of the cupboard.”
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