Thursday 19 September 2019

FAI: O'Neill will see contract through to 2020

ON THE SAME PAGE: (l-r) Ireland boss Martin O’Neill and FAI CEO John Delaney pictured in Cork yesterday. Photo: Sportsfile
ON THE SAME PAGE: (l-r) Ireland boss Martin O’Neill and FAI CEO John Delaney pictured in Cork yesterday. Photo: Sportsfile

One of those sliding doors moments.

Just hours after Martin O'Neill wrapped up a number of engagements in Cork, ahead of the FAI's AGM in the city later this summer, word came through from across the water that Stoke City were looking for a new manager. Again.

Paul Lambert has been shown the door but there's no sense of panic among O'Neill's current employers, even though a number of Premier League teams are now trying to find a new manager, that another saga is about to hit the FAI.

And FAI CEO John Delaney insists that the ending of financial backing from Denis O'Brien, who had been part-paying the wages of O'Neill and his backroom team, would have no impact on the association's ability to keep O'Neill and Roy Keane on board.

"I thank him for what he did but we have to stand on our two feet which we're doing now," Delaney says of the cash injection, which he estimates at €12m, which O'Brien has sent the FAI's way over the last decade.

"We have a management team. We've had them for the last four years, they've done really well for us, they got us qualified, got us to a play-off. Their task now is to do well in the Nations League and qualify for Euro 2020," added Delaney, who feels the Stoke saga over the New Year was never going to lead to O'Neill's exit.

"I never felt Martin was going to go. I said that to you at the time. Martin has shown a great enthusiasm about his (contract) renewal," Delaney said yesterday.

"As you know he was at the underage matches, he's been at a lot of grassroots matches, a lot of League of Ireland matches, a lot of sponsorship.

"We expect fully that Martin and Roy will see their contract through this time around, like they've done before. I think they know their aim is quite simple - to get to the Euros. Wouldn't it be marvellous to get to the Euros and have two games in Dublin. That's the biggest prize we've every had for qualifying for a European tournament."

While the World Cup finals goes ahead next month without Irish involvement, it's a busy spell ahead for O'Neill, with three games on the way.

Domestic issues are also relevant and Delaney says he's confident that the plan to revamp Dalymount Park into a newly-built home for Bohemians and Shelbourne will be completed, despite delays.

An initial suggestion to have the new Dalymount ready in time for Ireland's joint hosting of Euro 2020 was always ambitious, and with Dublin City Council - who now own the land - asking for a study on the project there were fears over the plan, but Delaney says it will go ahead. "I've had discussions with DCC and loosely you are talking about the back end of 2021, early 2022," Delaney said.

"That's the timeframe that we are talking about but the most important thing is to pick the design of the project, what it's going to be, make the application to the National Projects Fund and then get the work started but I have no doubt that Dalymount will be redeveloped.

"There are feasibility studies being conducted by DCC at the moment and I think that within the next sort period of time they will probably be a position from DCC in terms of the project that is best to look at going forward and that will take along the line to an application being made to the National Projects Fund."

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