John Delaney: Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane will stay the course

While it remains to be seen if the departure of Paul Lambert encourages Stoke City to make a renewed approach to Martin O’Neill, John Delaney has said the FAI “fully expect” the manager and Roy Keane to see their current contracts through to completion.

Speaking just hours before the news of Lambert’s exit broke yesterday, the FAI chief executive said: “Martin has shown a great enthusiasm about his renewal. As you know, he was at the underage matches, he’s been at a lot of grassroots matches, a lot of League of Ireland matches, a lot of sponsorship (events).

“We fully expect that Martin and Roy will see their contract through this time around, like they’ve done before. I think they know their aim is quite simple — to get to the Euros. Wouldn’t it be marvellous to get to the Euros and have two games in Dublin? That’s the biggest prize we’ve ever had for qualifying for a European tournament.”

European tournament football will actually take place in Ireland next year when the country hosts the men’s U17 finals, but, contrary to misleading reports online, Turner’s Cross in Cork and Eamonn Deacy Park in Galway will definitely not be among the venues used.

“There is a restriction time in terms of the teams travelling on the day and all of the squads will be based in Citywest,” explained Delaney.

“It will essentially be Dublin based but Waterford, Athlone, Bray — they’re examples of clubs that could be used. We submitted a number of venues in our bid. Uefa are currently working with our guys about picking the ultimate venues.”

On League of Ireland matters, Delaney confirmed that should Waterford qualify for European football at the end of the season, as a new entity the club would require a dispensation from Uefa in order to take part.

Derry City previously fell foul of the rule because of pre-existing debts and when asked if he believed Waterford could avoid the same fate, he replied: “That’s another story. I don’t know the detail on that. When you form a new company, people can come out of the woodwork. There may or may not be (debts).

“I’ll make it really simple — let’s see who qualifies for Europe and if any club requires dispensation, we’ll make an application with them. In Derry’s case, there were old debts. That’s why it wasn’t possible.”

Delaney said the redevelopment of Dalymount Park and construction of the Munster Centre of Excellence in Glanmire are “right up on our agenda” in the context of backing that the FAI hope to draw down from the €50m Large Scale Sport Infrastructure Fund.

He said: “I’ve been in touch with the minister today about that and I’d be hoping, or he’s hoping, that by the end of June/July that fund will be open for applications, and the two direct beneficiaries out of that we would be hoping for would be Dalymount Park and Glanmire.”

John Delaney was speaking at the launch of the FAI’s 2018 AGM and Festival of Football which will take place in Cork from August 13-18.


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