THE FAI’s aim to be debt-free by 2020 will be accelerated by revenues flowing from Euro 2012. €8m is the minimum pay-off for each finalist, with another million awarded per win in the group stages. A draw is worth €500,000. Third in the group earns €1m. So a repeat of Ireland’s performance at Euro 88 (one win, one draw and third place) would add another €2.5m to the FAI coffers, making a total of €10.5m.
Losing quarter-finalists pocket €2m, while the beaten semi-finalists collect €3m. The winners are guaranteed €7.5m, €3m more than the runners-up. That’s a total pot of €196m, up by €12m since Euro 2008. In addition, the FAI will enjoy increased revenue from qualification bonus clauses in sponsorship deals, and Euro 2012 fever will boost consumer spending.
GIOVANNI TRAPATTONI used 26 players in the qualifying campaign, so at least three will be disappointed when he names his squad for the finals. Those at risk include Liam Lawrence, who has dropped down the midfield pecking order in recent months, and James McCarthy, who featured for only three minutes in Group B. When Trap led Italy to Euro 2004 he brought three keepers, eight defenders, seven midfielders and five attackers. A similar configuration now could mean: Given, Westwood, Forde; O’Shea, Dunne, St Ledger, Ward, Kelly, McShane, O’Dea, Foley/Coleman; Duff, Whelan, Andrews, McGeady, Hunt, Fahey, Gibson; Keane, Doyle, Cox, Walters, Long.
When the draw is made in Kiev on December 2, Ireland could be re-united with two of the three teams they met at Euro 88 - Holland and either England or Russia. And if Joxer went to Stuttgart, why shouldn’t Pádraig head for Poznan and Deirdre discover Donetsk? A meeting with England would bring Trap face to face with Fabio Capello in a unique Italian match-up. Another possibility in the draw is that Ireland could get Germany and Sweden, both of whom await when the 2014 World Cup qualifiers begin next season. Anyone want to make some psychological points?
IRELAND’S steady rise (currently 25th) will continue when the latest rankings appear next week. Unfortunately, the 2014 World Cup draw in July came just too early: had it been held this month, as the last one was in 2007, Ireland would enjoy second-seed status rather than third. Even so, Ireland’s standing as a Euro finalist will increase their market value when friendly fixtures are being planned, even before the pooling of international tv rights among UEFA’s 53 members starts in 2014. With debts of €50m, that’s good news.