Wednesday 21 March 2018

FAI in friendly dilemma as Martin O'Neill continues to sit tight

Martin O'Neill
Martin O'Neill
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

THE FAI have a Friday deadline to make a decision on whether to stage a November friendly in Dublin, but they are still waiting for Martin O'Neill to indicate if he is willing to take the reins.

There are provisional plans for a November 15 meeting with Slovenia at the Aviva Stadium, even though the FAI have doubts over whether the game would be commercially viable without a full-time manager in place.

Under FIFA regulations, they have to inform clubs that their players are required two weeks in advance of a fixture, which means they need movement by Friday, the same day that headhunters Ray Houghton and Ruud Dokter are scheduled to offer recommendations to the FAI hierarchy.

However, the position hinges on the interest of O'Neill, who has had discussions with the association through an intermediary.

He is conscious that the FAI want a quick response, but is still mulling over his options. The vacancy at Crystal Palace doesn't appeal to the Derry man because of the lack of quality in their squad.

The alternative candidate, Ipswich manager Mick McCarthy, is working off the understanding that O'Neill is the FAI's selection and is awaiting developments although he is tempted to officially withdraw from the process if it drags on.

There has still been no approach from the FAI to the Championship club, which has been interpreted by the former Ireland boss as a sign that they are holding out for O'Neill.

In the meantime, the FAI are running out of time to put a November itinerary in place. They take on Poland in Poznan on Tuesday, November 19, but a home match in that international window was also expected to materialise.

Season ticket holders have paid in the understanding there would be another Dublin date before the end of the year.

If it fails to transpire, they would have to be refunded – an alternative which has been discussed is adding an extra game next summer to their package.

Noel King could assume caretaker status again for the purpose of naming a squad with a view to appointing Giovanni Trapattoni's replacement in the intervening period, but, in that scenario, confirming a home friendly would represent a risk.

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport