End of the line
The FAI has agreed to terminate the contract of national coach Steve Staunton by mutual consent after an early morning meeting in Dublin.
The move ends a week of speculation following Ireland's failure to qualify for Euro 2008 after a lacklustre draw against Cyprus in Croke Park last Wednesday night.
Despite the widely held assertion that the FAI board have already decided on his fate prior to the meeting, the Irish manager was given the opportunity to address them and argue his case for staying in charge for two more years.
Staunton, who had never previously held a previous senior management post, was appointed in January 2006 with former England coach Bobby Robson acting as a consultant.
FAI Chief Executive John Delaney said: “Obviously Stephen was appointed with Bobby Robson, and in relation to that obviously for whatever reason it hasn’t worked out.
“I think by moving to a process where we will appoint people who are vested in the game in a professional capacity to make the next appointment, it is recognition that that’s the way forward for the association at this stage.”
Delaney said he expected the process of selecting a successor to begin in a week's time.
“The board are meeting in a week or a week and a half’s time to look at individual names in terms of appointing a couple of advisers to make the next appointment,” he said.
Defending Staunton's role as national coach, Delaney added: “Stephen was fantastic as a player for his country and in terms of doing the role as manager certainly did his best.
“I’m disappointed that it didn’t work out, no question about that, I’m happy that everything finished amicably tonight and it was done by mutual consent and I hope to see him succeed in the future.”
Former Leeds and Aston Villa boss David O’Leary has emerged as the early 7-4 favourite to succeed Staunton.
Finland coach Roy Hodgson is 7-1, while former Liverpool, Rangers and Newcastle boss Graeme Souness is 8-1.
Emergency talks are believed to have taken place in Dublin Airport last night where Staunton made his pitch. It is believed that he spoke on the phone with international consultant Bobby Robson while the board considered their verdict. Meanwhile, a large media presence was encamped for most of the day at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Santry where a meeting room had also been booked.
Alas, as the hours passed, it emerged that the venue would only be used for press conference purposes rather than a stage for the negotiations themselves. As midnight approached, no official statement had been made.
Former Irish boss Brian Kerr launched a bitter attack at the FAI board as their deliberations continued. "It's irrelevant if I think it's the correct decision," said Kerr. "What I have a problem with is the authority that those people have to make that decision and the qualifications or lack of that those ten people have in making such crucial decisions on a regular basis."
Ireland Under-21 team manager Don Givens will take temporary charge of the senior side for the final Euro 2008 qualifier against Wales on November 17.