While stating he thinks it’s “logical” to hold off on negotiations with Martin O’Neill until the road to Russia has run its course, John Delaney has declined to specify whether a new contract offer for the manager is actually dependent on Ireland qualifying for the 2018 World Cup Finals.
“It would be wrong to say whether it is or whether it isn’t but certainly my take on it, and the board’s take, is that he’s made huge progress for Irish football as manager,” the FAI CEO said yesterday.
“He got us qualified (for the Euros), we’re joint-top at the moment, unbeaten in the group, Scott Hogan has declared, we’ve got some young players coming through that he’s developing and he’s getting the best out of the players that are available to him — and that’s the key thing for every international manager.
“It’s clear when you stand back and ask has he done a good job for Ireland, the answer is yes. But if you’re speaking to me about contract negotiations or any future negotiations, we’ll leave that aside until a clear picture evolves on whether we qualify or not.”
With O’Neill’s current contract due to run until the end of Ireland’s interest in the 2018 World Cup, Delaney offered the opinion that “it’s logical to leave everything until all the games are complete”.
He also dismissed recent reports linking Roy Keane to a future role as manager of Israel.
“That was a strange one, really,” he said. “If there had been any contact, it would have been directly from the Israeli FA and we’ve heard nothing and I don’t think Roy has heard anything either.”
His gut feeling, said Delaney, is that both men are keen to see out the job with Ireland.
“I think both of them, as I can see it, are fully committed to seeing the campaign through. Both of them are enjoying their roles.”
Fifa have yet to make it known to their member associations if this year’s World Cup play-offs will be seeded.
“The answer is I don’t know, same as yourself,” said Delaney. “My view, and I’m sure the manager’s view, is let’s try and go win the group first. If we get to a play-off, we get to a play-off, and we’ll deal with it then.”
On domestic matters, the FAI boss said the FAI are open to reviewing the current participation agreement in their ongoing discussions with League Of Ireland clubs.
He also said he was pleased to see the financial difficulties at Bray Wanderers resolved and would expect the club licensing authorities to take on board any relevant lessons for the coming season.
“The licensing process has improved the league substantially,” he said. “Now, when the licensing committee sit down next year to look at each club’s budgets and they look at investors and the backdrop to whether the investors can meet those particular commitments, that’s something the licensing committee will probably take on board, I’m sure.”
Delaney — who declined to take questions on the fall-out from the IOC ticketing controversy — was speaking after the launch in Dublin of the FAI’s new ‘Football For All’ Strategic Plan.
“It’s one of the best programmes we run,”he said. “It’s good to have a four-year plan — the aim is to grow the clubs, the participation, and the numbers and allow more kids to play the sport regardless of their ability.”
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