Trap's mission to Poland
FRESH from putting pen to paper on a new, reduced contract, Giovanni Trapattoni will travel to Poland next week to inspect facilities in the country where Ireland are planning to be based during Euro 2012.
Trapattoni will be in Kiev for Friday's draw to find out the identity of Ireland's opponents, but the FAI are planning to avoid Ukraine as a home for the competition even if they are landed in one of the two groups that will be staged there.
Fabio Capello's England have already decided to make the Polish city of Krakow the centrepiece of their stay regardless of how the balls come out of the drum, and a number of other leading teams have already committed to the country which has superior facilities.
And Ireland are preparing a similar plan of action, although they only have a 50pc chance of playing their finals matches in Poland.
UEFA have committed to providing competing nations with substantial grants towards the cost of internal flights while the tournament is ongoing, a fact which has encouraged the Abbotstown authorities to look at venues in the more developed co-host nation.
Last week, Polish media reported that an FAI delegation visited three base camps in northern Poland, near the port city of Gdansk.
The FAI are tight-lipped on what places Trapattoni will be looking at next week. "I think he's going to go to Poland and have a look at some of the training centres we're looking at basing ourselves in during the Euros," said CEO John Delaney yesterday. "It's a very busy time. That's all I can say."
Delaney was speaking as part of a blitz of radio interviews to accompany the worst-kept secret in the world. In other words, the confirmation that Trapattoni was staying on for another two years in the job.
The Italian said at the weekend that agreement had effectively been reached. A face-to-face meeting in Dublin on Monday was a formality.
As indicated, he has taken another pay cut, which Delaney refused to disclose the details of. "It's confidential," he said, "but it's a cut I would recognise as significant."
It's understood that Trapattoni's salary has been reduced to the region of €1.5m a year, with deals for assistant Marco Tardelli and fitness coach Fausto Rossi bringing the value of the overall management team towards the €2.5m mark.
Businessman Denis O'Brien will be paying 50pc of the cost. "To be very clear, it couldn't be done without him," stressed Delaney. "His continued support is outstanding."
The Waterford man acknowledged that in the current climate, the association couldn't afford to shell out the full cost themselves.
Despite qualification for the finals, the FAI remains engaged in cost-cutting procedures.
"Okay, we're going to do quite well financially out of the European Championship when it comes, but that money will go towards the Aviva debt," said Delaney. "It's very important that we reduce the debt on the stadium."
Trapattoni has other things on his mind now. The 72-year-old has told Delaney he would like to stay in management until he is 80, and is relishing the prospect of next summer regardless of who Ireland must encounter.
Indeed, he has warned other nations against underestimating his charges and suggested that progression from the group stages into the quarter-finals is possible.
"Obviously Ireland is a little country, and it's not famous," said Trapattoni, in discussion with Newstalk, "but I think the great countries, the famous teams, will need to have respect for Ireland.
"I think we can achieve a good position in the qualification group and then the quarter-finals. I am sure we can go up front. It won't be easy but, with our mentality, we can do well."
Whatever happens there, he can look beyond to the World Cup 2014 tilt. Delaney acknowledged that the contract issue had been hanging over the association for a while, but feels the FAI had no option but to wait until Ireland's European Championship fate became clear.
"A year ago, he said he enjoyed the role. Publicly, through the media, he was making calls he wanted to stay," said Delaney. "That was good to know. We always felt, the board, that it was best to wait until the end of the process before we engaged in talks of a new contract.
"He deserves one. He's qualified us for a major tournament for the first time in 10 years."