By Liam Mackey
FAI CEO John Delaney has confirmed that Martin O’Neill’s new contract with the FAI will be signed early next week.
“His representatives will be in on Monday and will meet with our legal team and the contract will be signed prior to the Nations’ League draw on Wednesday,” he said at the Aviva Stadium today, where it was announced that Aviva Ireland is extending its naming rights to the ground until 2025.
Addressing the amount of time which has elapsed since O’Neill and the FAI verbally agreed a deal back in October, Delaney said: “It’s the way it happened last time around. There was a verbal agreement and it took a couple of months for it to get physically signed.
“We agreed in October to offer Martin a new contract and he accepted. Obviously the game in November (the 5-1 play off defeat to Denmark) was a blow, there’s no doubt it was a blow, and Martin took some time to consider and reflect on whether he was going to renew his contract for a further two years.
“He came in last night, met with us, agreed terms and the contract will be signed prior to the Nations League draw on Wednesday.”
Asked how close O’Neill had come to moving to Stoke City, the FAI boss said: “I think that’s a question he’ll answer for himself next Wednesday. He certainly discussed it with me as he has many other offers he’s had, but when he rang me on Saturday to say that he was meeting Stoke, on balance I have to say that my view was that he’d be ringing me on Sunday to stay with the Republic of Ireland. And he rang me Sunday afternoon to say that he has respectfully declined the Stoke offer.
“There’s a lot of trust between the manager and the Association. I always felt he would stay. The Danish game was not the way for Martin O’Neill to finish as the Republic of Ireland manager. I think it gets lost a bit just how well we’ve done in his time. There were a lot of significant victories. And that should be remembered.
“I felt and the Association felt that there was still unfinished business. He indicated last night that he’s going to bring in younger players for (the friendly away to Turkey in) March.”
Commenting on reports that the manager’s contract with the FAI includes a clause which allows him to speak to clubs, Delaney said: “It’s not so much a clause, it’s an understanding, and there have been many approaches to Martin in his time since he joined us as manager. We’ve always had a very open and honest relationship with him and if any approaches are made he will inform us.
“If an employee wants to leave an employer you can’t stop them. Martin O’Neill, if he wanted to manage Stoke City or other clubs, could have done so by now. But he doesn’t. He wants to manage the Republic of Ireland and he has made that clear.”
While Delaney said he didn’t want to discuss the details of contracts, he did suggest that had the manager left for Stoke City – and even though no new contract had been signed with the FAI at that point – the latter would still have been due compensation.
“But we’re talking about something that hasn’t happened,” he added.