FAI Interim Chief Executive Gary Owens has said that he would be happy to “pay all the bonuses that people deserve” if Ireland succeeds in qualifying for the European Championship finals next year.
It has been reported that if newly appointed manager Stephen Kenny guides his team through the play-offs then his predecessor McCarthy, after managing the team through ten competitive games, would still be entitled to a qualification bonus of around €1 million.
That figure was not put to the CEO when he was queried about the existence of the bonus in a radio interview but in his reply he did make it clear that the FAI would be adhering to the terms of McCarthy’s contract.
“We will honour Mick’s contract but if we qualify for the Euros we won’t really have a financial problem because it’s actually quite lucrative for us to qualify and I’d be happy to pay all the bonuses that people would deserve if we get there, bearing in mind Mick got us to the play-offs,” he told Newstalk.
“The Euros are going to be huge with four matches in Dublin next year. It would be fantastic to get there and actually play matches here.
With Robbie Keane not included on Kenny’s new coaching ticket but still retaining a contract with the FAI after being part of McCarthy’s backroom staff, there is still uncertainty about what the former international’s future role might be.
Asked if Keane wanted to stay on in some position, Owens replied: “I don’t know, to be honest. We’re very open to sitting down and talking to Robbie about what role he may or may not play in the Association.
"We’re very open-minded about that. But I don’t really want to go into that because to be fair that’s a conversation we should have with either Robbie himself or his agent.”
And in an interview on RTÉ, the interim CEO added: “I wouldn't rule him out. Robbie has been one of our best players ever. He would also have a lot to offer."
Owens revealed that he is hoping that Ireland’s deferred Euros play-off against Slovakia takes place as late as November, in order to give Stephen Kenny some valuable preparation game-time with the senior squad.
"I'd like the play-off as late as we can", said Owens. "We have been trying to get the play-off in the November series, rather than in September or October.
"That would give Stephen and his team the chance to play some friendlies and Nations League matches in advance of the play-off. Most of the countries really don’t want the first match back to be a play off in September. And we support that.
"It's going to be a very busy and exciting time. You're going to have nine matches in the Autumn, followed by the World Cup qualifiers next year."
Owens has also paid tribute to outgoing manager McCarthy after the abrupt ending to his second spell in charge of the team.
"In the short time I have worked with him, I found him to be extremely professional,” Owens told FAI TV. “In loads of ways, I'm sorry I'm not going to be working with him in the future. It's Stephen's time, and we need to get right behind him and his new team."