The Board of the Football Association of Ireland has adopted a review of its senior management structure that will see Chief Executive Officer John Delaney move to a new position of Executive Vice-President with immediate effect.
Chief Operating Officer Rea Walshe has been appointed to the role of Interim CEO by the Board as the recruitment process begins for a new Chief Executive Officer.
The report was commissioned in February and carried out in recent weeks by sports governance expert Jonathan Hall Associates and their principal Jonathan Hall who is a former Director of Governance and Director of Football Services with the English FA.
Jonathan Hall Associates was engaged to review senior management structures and the role of CEO as the Association plans for the launch of a new strategic report for the period 2020-2024 and ahead of its centenary in 2021.
The report recommends that the FAI considers creating a new role of Executive Vice-President and starts the process of appointing a new Chief Executive Officer in order to put itself in the best position possible for the strategic period ahead.
The report states: “The new role of Executive Vice-President would be a specific defined role with responsibility for a range of international matters and special projects on behalf of the FAI. It is envisaged that the current CEO would step into this new role. This would allow Irish football to continue to benefit from his extensive football experience and contacts across Europe and the rest of the world.”
The report adds: “A new Chief Executive should be recruited to be responsible for all the other issues typically overseen by a Chief Executive of a national association. The new Chief Executive would assume responsibility for leading and managing the executive team at the FAI with appropriate executive support being provided to the Executive Vice-President to carry out the role. Both roles should be clearly defined and would report into the Board.
“The new Chief Executive and the Executive Vice-President would need to work closely together in a collaborative manner in line with the updated strategy established by the new Chief Executive and agreed by the Board.”
Under the new procedures, the Executive Vice-President and the CEO would attend Board meetings of the FAI but would not be members of the Board.
The review was adopted unanimously by the Board of the FAI at a meeting on March 22nd and will take immediate effect with Chief Operating Officer Rea Walshe appointed interim CEO as the recruitment process for a new Chief Executive Officer gets underway.
FAI President Donal Conway said: “The Board of the FAI engaged Jonathan Hall to work on this report as, together with the CEO, we have recognised for some time past the need for a review of our senior management structure.
“We have now adopted the recommendations of Jonathan Hall’s report and will begin the process to appoint a new Chief Executive Officer. John Delaney will take on the new role of Executive Vice-President immediately with the full backing of the Board.
“On behalf of the Board and the members of the Association I want to thank John for everything he has done for the FAI and for Irish football. He has transformed how we operate as an Association.
“This new role will allow John to utilise his vast experience and connections in the world of football and will best serve the FAI as we look to the future and our new strategic plan for Irish football which is currently a work in progress.
“John will continue to represent us at UEFA level as we look ahead to next year when the Aviva Stadium will host four games at the EURO 2020 finals thanks to his influence at European level.
“We host the UEFA European Under-17 Championship finals this summer, which will bring 9,000 bed spaces to Dublin, we celebrate the centenaries of the FAI and the SSE Airtricity League early in the new decade and the bi-centenary of the women’s game in Ireland.
“John is already leading our joint-bid with the Irish FA for the UEFA Under-21 Championships in 2023 and is working closely with the FAs in Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales on the feasibility of a joint bid for the 2030 World Cup.
“John’s life has been devoted to Irish football and he will bring the same energy, vitality and inspiration to this new role. We will now begin the recruitment process for a new CEO with an expected appointment ahead of our AGM in Trim at the end of July.
“Governance is vitally important to the FAI. We appointed a governance committee in 2017 and have made a number of changes to our rules in compliance with the Governance Code.
“The Board of the Football Association of Ireland is happy to meet with the Department to discuss these changes and would also welcome the opportunity to update Sport Ireland and the Oireachtas Committee on Sport on our new senior management structure.
“Rea Walshe has been central to our governance policy and the Board wishes her well in her interim role as Chief Executive Officer.”
The Board voted unanimously at its meeting on March 22nd to appoint CEO John Delaney to the newly created role of Executive Vice-President.
Chief Executive of the FAI since March 2005 and elected to the executive committee of UEFA in 2017, he will take up the role with immediate effect.
The responsibilities of the new Executive Vice-President include all FIFA and UEFA matters including membership of the UEFA Executive Committee, all FAI tournament bidding projects, international relations and support, the John Giles Foundation, membership of the Board of the Aviva Stadium, planning for the centenary of the FAI and the 50th anniversary of women’s football in Ireland in 2023 and a bid to host the UEFA Women’s Champions League final in Dublin.
The new Executive Vice-President will also work on special projects as agreed by the Board and the new Chief Executive and will be available to the CEO for assistance.
John Delaney said: “It has been my absolute pleasure and privilege to have served the Football Association of Ireland as CEO since 2005 and I would like to thank all the staff and everyone involved in Irish football for their support and assistance in that time.
“This new role is one that really excites me. For some months now, I have been talking to President Donal Conway, the Board and members of our senior management team about redefining the most senior management roles at the Association.
“The Jonathan Hall Associates review has now been adopted by the Association and I am privileged to accept this new role as Executive Vice-President as there is so much I can offer the FAI in this position as we future proof football in Ireland.
“I am very proud of my work as CEO with the FAI. Since I took up the office we have improved how we operate as an Association.
“We have gone from 40 to over 200 employees in that time. We have moved to the National Sports Campus in Abbotstown and we have worked with Sport Ireland on developing world class facilities there.
“Just last week, our senior international team trained on the pitches at the FAI National Training Centre alongside our Under-21 and our Under-17 teams, as they prepare for their respective European Championships.
“Since my appointment as CEO, we have built the world class stadium that is the Aviva Stadium in partnership with the Government and the IRFU. We have hosted the UEFA Europa League final and next year we will host four games at EURO 2020, hopefully with Mick McCarthy and his Ireland team there in group stages. We have competed at European Championship finals and our fans have been recognised repeatedly as the best in the world.
“We have improved the League of Ireland significantly, we have introduced underage structures to the League and we have offered our best young footballers a pathway to the top of the game in tandem with our Player Development Plan.
“We have also brought women’s football into the Association and we have worked very hard in recent years to correct mistakes made and improve the women’s game at all levels.
“Our grassroots game is stronger now than ever before and we continue to deliver on our Football For All policies thanks to the diligence and hard work of the staff at Abbotstown and across Ireland.
“There have been many challenges for Irish football in my time as CEO and I will be the first to acknowledge that but I have always given my best for Irish football and I will continue to do that in this new role.
“This past fortnight has been very difficult for me on a personal and professional level and I would like to thank the Board and my work colleagues across the FAI for their support. In recent days I have received many messages of support from the family of football, from many of the 2,000 clubs I have visited in my role as CEO and from the world of politics and sport which I am grateful for.
“It is time now for a new start and I am really looking forward to serving Irish football as best I can as Executive Vice-President.
“Already in my role as a member of the UEFA Executive Committee I have been able to bring so many positives to the game here in Ireland including the hosting of the draw for the EURO 2020 qualifiers, while four games will be hosted in the Aviva Stadium.
“As chairman of the UEFA Youth Committee, I am proud that Ireland will showcase the very best talent when we host the UEFA European Under-17 Championship in May. I am also chair of the UEFA Amateur committee and deputy chair of the Women’s Committee and a portfolio holder for five nations including our EURO 2020 opponents Gibraltar.
“As a UEFA ExCo board member, I have been involved with the UEFA Strategy Group planning the future of the governing body between now and 2024 and I know that all that experience will benefit Irish football going forward.
“There is so much we can work on and I can lead including our bid for the European Under 21 Championships in 2023, a bid to host the UEFA Women’s Champions League final at the Aviva Stadium and a proposed bid to co-host the 2030 World Cup finals with England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland which is currently in the preliminary stage.
“We are also working on a new centralised international TV deal with UEFA which will be hugely beneficial to the FAI and we are in talks over a centralised TV channel deal which will greatly benefit League of Ireland clubs.
“All of these projects will enhance the development of Irish football as we approach the centenary of the FAI.”
The FAI will begin the recruitment process for a new CEO with immediate effect with interviews expected to take place in late April and an appointment ratified by the Board in May. It is planned to unveil the new CEO at the 2019 AGM of the FAI in Trim, County Meath.
The Board of the FAI and its employees will make no immediate comment on this matter.