Friday 23 February 2018

Euros progress could net FAI €11m

Martin O'Neill
Martin O'Neill
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

The FAI will be guaranteed a figure in the region of €11m from UEFA if Martin O’Neill’s Ireland side make it out of their group at next summer’s European Championships.

Ahead of this evening’s draw in Paris, a meeting of European football’s executive committee confirmed the prize pot for the tournament.

UEFA have increased the total fund for the competition to €301m, a huge increase from the €196m pot for Euro 2012. However, the presence of eight extra teams and an additional round mean that the minimum figure for participation in the group stages remains at €8m.

That’s all that Giovanni Trapattoni’s side earned last time around when they lost all three matches in Poland, missing out on the rewards for positive results.

Progression to the round of 16 would be worth €1.5m to the association, with €1m on offer for a group stage win and €500,000 for a draw. A four-point haul to make it to the next phase would secure €11m for the association – a sum that would be a major help in dealing with their substantial borrowings arising from their commitment to the Aviva Stadium. Last year’s FAI accounts detailed that the association’s bank debt, including an overdraft, stood at €51.2m.

Quarter-finalists will receive an additional €2.5m, with €4m on top for the semi-finalists and a kicker of €8m for the competition winners.

The jackpot emphasises the importance of the win over Bosnia last month, and the generous nature of the expanded competition means that 16 of the 24 competitors will advance to the second round, with four of the six third-placed teams advancing to the knockout section.

That is why Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill believes that the managers of the nations in Pot 4, the bottom seeded teams, would be unwise to focus too much on the identity of the top seed in their group. He is not keen on drawing England from Pot 1 because the hype could potentially affect the focus on the other two games.

“Everyone will focus on ‘you’re playing England, you’re playing England’,” argues the ex-Shamrock Rovers boss, “When there’s three games and you’ve to find a way of getting four points to get out of the group. Four will give you a good chance and three might well be enough.

“An England game overshadows everything and it could be detrimental. I think for both us and the Republic, it’s who we get in Pot 2 and 3 which will be the most important thing.”

The older O’Neill can see the logic in his counterpart’s argument, although he asserted that he ‘genuinely wouldn’t have a problem’ with landing Roy Hodgson’s side and ending a 24-year wait for a competitive meeting between the sides.

“We’re not in a position to pick out some side and say ‘Oh I think we can deal with that,” said the Ireland boss, who will be joined by assistant Roy Keane in the French capital for the draw.

Hodgson, meanwhile, referenced Ireland’s shock win over Germany in October as evidence that England cannot be complacent about any opponent at the other end of the draw. Wales are also in Pot 4.

“Even in an expanded Euros like this one, you get a lot of very good teams,” said the English boss. “Even if you go down to the so-called weakest pool, there are lots of teams there who are quite capable of beating the top seeds on their day. Witness Ireland against Germany and that was in a qualifier – not a friendly.”

UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino suggested at yesterday’s press conference that the introduction of goal-line technology for the tournament and their elite club competitions is a real possibility.

Organisers also stressed that co-operation with the French state to ensure a safe experience for travelling fans will be the priority over the next six months in light of the recent attacks in Paris.

Indo Sport

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