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Ireland FA chief John Delaney steps aside amid governance questions

Ireland made a winning start to their European Championship qualifying campaign with a 1-0 win in Gibraltar.

Football Association of Ireland (FAI) chief executive John Delaney stepped aside from his role on Saturday, the FAI said, 10 days before he was due to appear before lawmakers over a €100,000 loan provided to the governing body.

Delaney was called before a parliamentary committee over the personal loan, provided two years ago to help the FAI with what it called a short-term cash flow issue. Delaney said it was the only time he gave such a loan and it was repaid in full.

Delaney will remain in the association he has led since 2005 in a new role of executive vice-president.

Rea Walshe, who was promoted to the role of chief operation officer a month ago, was named interim chief executive. The move was announced after Ireland beat Gibraltar 1-0 in their opening Euro 2020 qualifier.

"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," Delaney said in a statement.

"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."

The FAI said the moves were a result of a review of its senior management structure which was commissioned in February and carried out in recent weeks.

In his new role, Delaney will have responsibility for a range of international matters including all FIFA and UEFA matters and FAI tournament bidding projects. He will work closely with the new CEO, the FAI said.

Delaney's loan to the FAI has been a major news story since the Sunday Times first reported it a week ago. Delaney failed in a court application to prevent the disclosure, the newspaper said.

The FAI has since had to explain the payment to Ireland's corporate watchdog. Sport Ireland, the state-funded coordination body, said the FAI had not notified it about a deterioration in its finances, as it would have been obliged to do.

Delaney said the loan had been "a matter of timing" and had no impact on the FAI's overall financial position.

Delaney has been the FAI's chief executive since 2005 and his reported 360,000 euro annual salary, high for a sports administrator in Ireland, has come under constant public scrutiny.

He was also appointed to the executive committee of European soccer body UEFA in 2017.

"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," FAI President Donal Conway said.

"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."

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