The FAI have terminated the contracts of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy and his assistant Terry Connor, paving the way for U21 boss Stephen Kenny to take charge with immediate effect.
Faced with a quandary caused by the Covid-19 outbreak, the association’s new hierarchy have acted decisively by committing to honouring Kenny’s contract terms.
Those details decreed that Kenny would replace McCarthy on August 1, despite the Euro play-off semi-final against Slovakia being postponed until September at the earliest. The finals have been pushed back by Uefa until June 2021.
McCarthy will leave the position with a €1.2m severance package, as part of a deal brokered by former chief executive John Delaney in November 2018 to clinch his succession plan.
Robbie Keane’s future in the FAI remains uncertain, as Kenny is not duty bound to retain McCarthy’s coach in his set-up.
The new boss will likely promote his backroom team from the U21s, including coaches Keith Andrews and Jim Crawford, though the latter could succeed Kenny as U21 boss, with Damien Duff replacing Keane in the supporting role.
Once UEFA decided on Wednesday to long-finger the play-offs, a costly legal case was the last thing the FAI needed.
Their efforts to emerge from a year of turmoil have been mothballed by this pandemic.
They have announced on Monday a salary deferral scheme for all staff of up to 50 per cent in their bid to 'survive'.
“I’m surprised by the news,” former Ireland boss Brian Kerr told Newstalk’s Off the Ball, the radio station who broke today’s news.
“It’s an awkward position for the new FAI management to make but I’m sure it wasn’t taken rashly.
“Stephen will go into the Slovakia play-off with no opportunity to play friendlies and will have to work on instinct.”
The Sports Minister Shane Ross and Junior Minister Brendan Griffin are expressing thanks to Mick McCarthy who's stepping down as Republic of Ireland manager.
Shane Ross said he has done so much for Irish football over the years.
He said when McCarthy resumed duties as manager, with his wealth of coaching experience at the highest level, he soon righted the ship.
He has also recognising the leadership McCarthy showed during the last year when the FAI was dealing with challenges off the pitch
Interim FAI CEO Gary Owens said: “This has been a difficult situation for the Association - and for Mick and Stephen in particular - in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and the effect it has had on the football calendar.
“On behalf of President Gerry McAnaney, the Board of the FAI and myself, I want to thank both men for their professionalism and their understanding in their dealings with the Association in these unprecedented circumstances. These are exceptional times in Irish life and Mick has taken that into account in agreeing to vacate the post early.
“On behalf of the FAI, I wish to express our gratitude to Mick for his service and commitment to our national team throughout his career and particularly in his second spell as Ireland manager. We wish Mick and his staff well and we thank them all for their hard work in this European Championship campaign to date.
“Stephen will now begin his planning for the play-off against Slovakia and everyone at the FAI wishes him well in our bid to qualify for Euro 2020. Football will be back and we have so much to look forward to now in the autumn with the Nations League and the UEFA EURO 2020 play-off, followed by the World Cup qualifiers in early 2021.”