Irish FA president Jim Shaw believes Northern Irish football is on the up
Published 12/10/2015 | 11:41
Northern Ireland's qualification for Euro 2016 will raise the country's standing in the footballing world, according to Irish FA president Jim Shaw.
The Green and White Army will be on the march next summer for the first time since the 1986 World Cup and Shaw is enthused about what that could mean for Northern Irish football.
There will, naturally, be an immediate financial boost, but wider recognition in the world game and a positive impact on future generations are among the other expected benefits.
"Something like this lifts the whole country in footballing terms," Shaw told Press Association Sport.
"It gives us a great recognition in European and world football, our first time in the Championship.
"There will be revenue attached to it as well of course. It's not easy to put a number on it but looking at the previous tournament as a guide, it will be a substantial amount of money.
"If you have success at the tournament itself the revenue stream goes up again.
"We have also jumped to 35 in the world rankings, which is incredible and should make it easier to get friendlies.
"We can't get prime fixtures because there is simply too much money involved but we'll be looking for significant friendlies in the build-up to France.
"And looking at the next generation, there will be thousands of youngsters motivated by what Northern Ireland have achieved."
Developments are expected in due course on the future of the man who has masterminded the nation's unexpected success.
Michael O'Neill's deal runs out at the end of the European Championship and he is thought to want the security of a four-year deal if he is to re-sign.
He has also been linked with jobs in England and Scotland, where he lives, but Shaw gave little away.
"Michael has done an excellent job, we could not have imagined how well we have done in the campaign and most of the credit for that goes to him," he said.
"We've had no contact from anybody regarding Michael, and all the rest of those issues will take care of themselves in a professional manner."