Friday 30 September 2016

Martin O'Neill reveals FAI wanted him to sign a four-year deal

JOHN FALLON

Published 19/07/2015 | 02:30

It now appears an inevitability that Martin O’Neill will be in charge for the World Cup qualifiers irrespective of whether or not he salvages the current campaign in the concluding four ties
It now appears an inevitability that Martin O’Neill will be in charge for the World Cup qualifiers irrespective of whether or not he salvages the current campaign in the concluding four ties

Ireland manager Martin O'Neill has admitted for the first time that his continuation in the position was never contingent on qualification for next year's European Championships.

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Despite revealing at his unveiling 19 months ago that the remit centred on reaching France, O'Neill has now confirmed it was he - rather than Football Association of Ireland - who laid down that ultimatum.

In fact, the Ireland manager says he declined the option of accepting the job in November 2013 on a four-year contract, instead preferring an initial stint covering solely the quest to secure qualification for the Euros.

It now appears an inevitability that O'Neill, who recently rebuffed an approach from Leicester City to succeed the sacked Nigel Pearson, will be in charge for the World Cup qualifiers irrespective of whether or not he salvages the current campaign in the concluding four ties.

"John Delaney wanted me to commit to a longer contract at the time but I was the one who said, 'Let's see this competition and see where we go'," said O'Neill.

"John never said to me that these are the consequences of not qualifying. I was the one who said that. I have been relatively steadfast in things that I say but you will allow me a wee bit of poetic licence.

"In fact, John Delaney, to his eternal credit after the press conference, said to me that he'd never said that.

"He was quite the opposite by saying, 'I don't think you should have put that pressure on yourself'. I think the consequences of not qualifying are always there.

"I said it that day because I listen to a lot of managerial speak these days and it drives you insane. It really does. I enjoy this job, even though my face doesn't show it sometimes. If the FAI wanted me to continue, it would be really great.

"I left a contract as manager at Norwich City way back. The chairman and I did not get on, which was more personal than anything else, and I didn't feel the better of it for quite a while.

"If I was a club manager looking at an international manager, I would have thought that generally, you would go for two campaigns. It is difficult in one competition to put across a manager's ideas and make progress."

Meanwhile, security was high at yesterday's FAI AGM in Sligo but there little controversy inside the Clarion hotel as, once again, the event passed out without any questions from the 129 delegates in attendance.

Amid a threat of a fans' protest, security officers patrolled the entrances and the perimeter.

Chief executive John Delaney was given a standing ovation by most of the audience after delivering his address in which he expressed regret at not demanding more than the €5m the FAI received from FIFA after the 2009 World Cup play-off.

Eddie Murray, the Association's treasurer, revealed that no cost was borne from the FAI's decision to reprint 17,000 programmes for last month's qualifier against Scotland following a late decision to remove comments made by Delaney.

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