Over the course of fifteen years, John Delaney ran the Football Association of Ireland as his own personal fiefdom. He had his critics, but his power was never seriously challenged until last year, when Mark Tighe and Paul Rowan published a sequence of stories in the Sunday Times containing damaging revelations about his personal compensation and the parlous financial situation of the FAI. Delaney’s reputation as a great financial manager was left in tatters.
He resigned under pressure, and the FAI was left hoping for a massive bail-out from the Irish taxpayer. In Champagne Football, Tighe and Rowan dig deep into the story of Delaney’s career and of the FAI’s slide into ruin. They show how he surrounded himself with people whose personal loyalty he could count on, and a board that failed to notice that the association’s finances were shot.
They detail Delaney’s skilful cultivation of opinion-formers outside the FAI. And they document the culture of excess that Delaney presided over and benefited from, to the detriment of the organization he led. Champagne Football is a gripping, sometimes darkly hilarious and often enraging piece of reporting by the award-winning journalists who finally pulled back the curtain on the FAI’s mismanagement.