Champagne Football
Mark Tighe and Paul Rowan

Book cover image

Narrated By: Johnny Candon

Duration: 10 hours and 10 minutes

What to expect

Brought to you by Pengun.


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.

'I read it in one sitting, it's a superb book' Eamon Dunphy, The Stand

'An astonishing exposé' Martin Ziegler, The Times

'Excellent' Irish Sun

'A jaw-dropping story ... brilliant' Irish Times

'Essential reading' Irish Daily Star

'Astonishing ... Side-splittingly hilarious' Guardian

'A damming account' Sunday Independent

'An instant classic, one of the all-time great Irish sports books' Alan English

'Excellent ... includes staggering detail' Daily Mail

'A cracking read ... [An] incredible amount of jaw-dropping detail' Matt Cooper

'One of the most hotly-anticipated sport books of the year' Brendan O'Connor

'A masterpiece'
Tommy Martin

'At last, the truth of his ruinous reign has been rigorously and painstakingly exposed' Irish Daily Mail
An absolutely extraordinary book' Eoin McDevitt, Second Captains

'Remarkable. The desperate story of Irish football but also a book about how Ireland works. Outstanding'
Dion Fanning

© Mark Tighe, Paul Rowan 2020 (P) Penguin Audio 2020


Association football (Soccer), Sports governing bodies, Sports management and facilities, Corruption, Business ethics and social responsibility, Public finance and taxation

Listen to a sample

Utterly COMPELLING ... I can't decide if Delaney is a machiavellian mastermind or a lucky chancer

via Twitter


Joe Duffy

Essential reading

Irish Daily Star

A superb piece of investigative journalism, in which a tale of tawdry venality is told with wit, verve, and just the right amount of disbelief

Irish Times, Best Books of 2020

Astonishing ... One of the most important books published in this country. If you wanted to change Ireland, you would need to read this book

The Currency

Compelling and often side-splittingly hilarious


Absolutely superb ... Good old fashioned gumboot journalism and a rollicking good read

via Twitter

A masterpiece

via Twitter

Part thriller, part warning from history, part social diary, Champagne Football is a forensic and often tragicomic investigation into the biggest story in Irish sport. It's a fantastic read

Irish Times, Sports Books of the Year 2020

An instant classic, one of the all-time great Irish sports books ... Terrific

via Twitter

An extraordinary story of what happens when proper governance doesn't exist

Sunday Times

An astonishing exposé

The Times

Brilliant ... Easily the Irish sports book of the year

Hot Press

The Irish sports book of the year

Stellar work

Irish Independent

Fantastic ... A real page-turner

Game On

Remarkable. The desperate story of Irish football but also a book about how Ireland works. Outstanding

Dion Fanning

The most important Irish sports book of the year and most significant book on Irish life itself ... Exceptional

Irish Daily Mail

I read it in one sitting, it's a superb book ... I urge people to buy it and read it even if you're not interested in football

The Stand

A jaw-dropping tale of power and ego going unchecked

Times, Best Sports Books of the Year 2020

A jaw-dropping story ... brilliant

Irish Times

A cracking read ... [An] incredible amount of jaw-dropping detail

Matt Cooper

A damming account ... brilliantly detailed

Sunday Independent

Fantastic ... The best book I've ever read about Irish football

Second Captains

Excellent ... includes staggering detail

Daily Mail

Made my blood boil

Des Cahill

One of the most hotly-anticipated sport books of the year

Brendan O'Connor

Astonishing ... It reads like an outrageous work of fiction with a scarcely believable cast of characters

Business Post

A monumental piece of writing and investigation, a work that will go down as Irish sporting history's Woodward & Bernstein moment

Irish Examiner

The most important book ever written about Irish sport ... This is the must-read of 2020

RTÉ Culture

An absolutely extraordinary book

Second Captains