THERE is now a clear gap between the FAI and Giovanni Trapattoni which threatens to overshadow Ireland's preparation for the November 11/15 Euro 2012 play-off against Estonia.
Trapattoni's revelation that he has a clause in his contract which allows him to walk away, win lose or draw, after the play-off will not play well in Abbotstown and could accelerate moves to find an alternative.
Speculation about Martin O'Neill has been growing steadily throughout the summer and if Trapattoni overplays his hand, the feeling is that the former Northern Ireland international would be an ideal fallback.
Informal talks between Trapattoni and his employers have centred around finance and the fact that he has been unwilling to take the kind of salary haircut which is required by the FAI.
The FAI's intention is to wait until Ireland's play-off fate is known but if Trapattoni achieves qualification, he could justifiably ask for a wage increase.
An FAI spokesman, when contacted by the Herald, said: "We have no comment to make on this. We're all just concentrating on the two games we have ahead of us."