AFTER announcing that he would take a ten per cent pay-cut, the chief executive of the Football Association of Ireland (FAI), John Delaney wasn’t commended. Instead he was met with an outpouring of scorn, derision and pure contempt. Even though, as Delaney is keen to point out, the salary reduction is a voluntary one – his third in total, no less – the Irish football-loving public are not happy. The reason is simple: he is paid too much. He is Nero, playing the fiddle while Rome burns.
In a society where widespread financial plight has become the defining feature, Delaney’s salary makes one wonder what exactly it is that the man at the helm of Irish football does to earn it, but more importantly, why is it so frustratingly exorbitant in the first instance?
In a purely social context, it is absolutely baffling. For example, the average minimum wage in Ireland at present is just over €15,000 per annum and John Delaney earns over 20 times that amount. He also earns more than the Taoiseach and the president combined (why they should earn so much, is of course also worthy of scrutiny).
However, even looking at it exclusively from the “football”* angle, Delaney’s salary reportedly dwarfs that of his counterparts in the Italian and Spanish football associations. Furthermore, it is greater than the entire prize fund for the Airtricity League, Ireland’s domestic league, which has also recently been reduced. Within the association itself, individuals are being made redundant, while one man stands to earn €360,000 next year.
When pressed on the issue of his high salary, Mr Delaney resorts to red-herrings, protesting that he has had job offers with higher pay and that he was earning more before he took the job (when he was Treasurer – what must that figure have looked like?). Of course it’s a deliberate deflection concocted to provide himself with relief from the glare of media and public attention.
But the scrutiny must be unremitting. No one, I’m sure, expects him to be wearing a sackcloth and starving as he works, but nor should such blatant extravagance be entertained.
*There is no verb form of ‘football’ and it is a noun. Hence, no ‘footballing’. Get it right.