Ireland squad broker €1m Euros bonus deal with FAI
At least €1m of the Football Association of Ireland's Euro 2016 qualification bonus is expected to be swallowed up by the players.
The association yesterday confirmed agreement has been reached relating both to fees payable to players for qualification as well as the bonus structure for those involved at the finals in France.
Only a fortnight ago, the players' representative, Ciaran Medlar of BDO, had expressed his disappointment at the delay in striking a deal and now the focus will turn to ensuring the payments are discharged in a timely manner.
As the FAI's finances plummeted following the last major tournament, Euro 2012, players were left waiting on payment for their fees and bonuses.
"We are pleased to have finalised this agreement quickly and cordially with the FAI through our representative, Ciaran Medlar," said Ireland captain Robbie Keane.
The players are all very focused on preparing the tournament. We are delighted to have reached the Euro 2016 finals and really looking forward to an exciting group."
As the FAI are guaranteed a minimum €8m from UEFA for qualifying, coupled with sponsorship bonuses and increased ticket revenue from the three friendly matches during the interim, the players were keen to ensure they reap some monetary benefit.
It has also been announced that a further tranche of 1,200 tickets has been made available by UEFA to the FAI for the three group matches at the finals.
The revised allocation means the Green Army will have 16,487 tickets for the opener against Sweden on June 13, 7,495 for the meeting with Belgium five days later and 9,720 when Italy provide the opposition for the concluding group game in Lille.
Whether the tickets actually end up the hands of genuine fans remains unclear. Those supporters' groups long frustrated at the FAI's handling of ticket distribution will be watching closely to see if the association follow the likes of the English FA in rewarding loyal supporters.
Yesterday was significant for the FAI unveiling their five-year strategic plan, although none of the national newspaper correspondents were invited and so the opportunity to question the various objectives outlined was prevented.
One of the standout aims contained therein was the intention to create an U-15 national league, a laudable plan albeit curious given the teething problems encountered during the first year of the U-17 equivalent.
Schoolboy leagues, only informed yesterday of this development, will also be eager to have their say in such a project considering its repercussions.
Meanwhile, the FAI's past intention of being debt-free by 2020 was resurrected yesterday.
The association have amassed debts of €51.2m in the past five years, primarily due to their disastrous premium ticket scheme failing to pay for their share of the Lansdowne Road redevelopment costs.
"Throughout the life of this strategy, we will remain focused on managing our debt and we continue to aim to be debt-free at the end of the 2020," read a section in the strategic plan, referring to another debt writedown proposal.