John Delaney's contribution to the grassroots game is lauded

Thursday, 28th March, 2019 2:13pm

John Delaney's contribution to the grassroots game is lauded

Former FAI chief executive John Delaney. Photo: Sportsfile

The four provincial associations, including the Connacht FA, and the Junior Council of the FAI have acknowledged the contribution of former CEO John Delaney to grassroots football over the past 14 years.

In a statement issued this afternoon, they highlighted Mr. Delaney's visits to almost 2,000 grassroots clubs all over the country, his assistance with the development of facilities at many of those clubs, and his recognition of the work performed by volunteers at club level everywhere.

The statement continued: “Under John’s leadership, the FAI facilities department assisted many clubs with Sports Capital grant applications as well as advising clubs technically on clubhouses, artificial pitches and floodlighting. Whenever possible he attended club and league presentation nights, anniversary dinners and dedicated a lot of his free time to attending these events, often taking up family time to be at a particular event to recognise a landmark occasion.

“He was instrumental in bringing the FAI AGM from a Dublin-based event to several counties around the country and this Festival of Football is now a much sought after event by many leagues and is booked up well into the mid 2020s.

“Club visits, volunteer recognition awards, coach of the year awards as well as the much coveted club of the year award are now very much a part of this festival.

“The launch of the FAI National Draw assisted many clubs in raising badly needed funds, with the FAI providing some excellent prizes allowing clubs to keep a major share of the price of every ticket sold. This draw has become the sole major fundraiser of many grassroot clubs around the country and has further assisted clubs in developing their facilities and coaching structures.

“When John Delaney became CEO in 2005, the FAI were renting Lansdowne Road from the IRFU for international games. They are now co-owners of a state of the art stadium which is the envy of many national associations.

“Also, in his time as CEO, the FAI moved from Merrion Square to a very impressive complex in Abbotstown, providing offices for staff, affiliates and leagues with six superb quality pitches which are up to international standard.

“The women’s and schoolboys section of the grassroots game have been brought under the umbrella of the national association and in the history of the game in the country, it could be said that all strands of the game have never been closer and working so well together.

“Next month, the country will host the UEFA Under 17 finals, an event that has 16 countries competing in games that will be played in Dublin, Longford, Wicklow and Waterford. This comes on the back of a very high profile qualifying draw for Euro 2020 which was held in the Convention Centre last December and brought the elite of European soccer to Dublin. June 2020 will see four games in the Euro 2020 finals being played in the Aviva Stadium, with our boys in green hopefully still involved.

“With bids for the UEFA Under 21 finals in 2023 and a joint FIFA World Cup bid for 2030, this is a very exciting time for our beautiful game and John Delaney must be given credit for the hard work and effort he has put into ensuring the game is in the best place possible in this country.

“His election to the UEFA executive committee is testament to the high regard he is held within the game in Europe and while this is a great honour for John, it is also recognition of the game in our association.”

The statement concluded by saying all in the grassroots game are 'very grateful for John’s support and contribution to the grassroots game in his time as CEO and fully believe he is the person to continue his work with UEFA and FIFA matters in his new role as executive vice president'.

It was signed by Gerry Tully of the Connacht FA, Peter Doyle of the Leinster FA, Gerard Delaney of the Munster FA, Herbie Barr of the Ulster FA, and Dennis Cruise, secretary of the Junior Council of the FAI.

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