Friday 19 January 2018

FAI in no rush to give Martin O'Neill a new deal

Wanted: Leicester City have earmarked Martin O'Neill as a replacement for Nigel Pearson
Wanted: Leicester City have earmarked Martin O'Neill as a replacement for Nigel Pearson
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

The FAI have no immediate plans to offer a new contract to Martin O'Neill despite Leicester City's interest in the Irish boss as they search for Nigel Pearson's replacement.

Abbotstown officials are confident they will keep hold of O'Neill for the rest of the Euro 2016 race even if an approach materialises from the Premier League side and they have denied reports that they would not stand in the Derryman's way should Leicester pick up the phone.

O'Neill's contract ends when the Euros campaign draws to a close and he has previously hinted that he would be open to a longer stay.

It was suggested over the weekend that the FAI are preparing to put another two-year deal on the table to take in the next World Cup campaign.

However, FAI sources have indicated that the association's board have yet to seriously discuss a fresh contract for O'Neill with a wait-and-see approach being adopted at this stage of the Euros journey.

Ireland sit fourth in their group heading into September where they should win a double-header against Gibraltar and Georgia and hope for a helping hand from other results.

Realistically, it means that final judgment on O'Neill's tenure will be reserved until October at the earliest unless the hierarchy decide to bring forward discussions on the long term.

Read more: Leicester preparing to make approach for Ireland boss Martin O'Neill this weekend

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The 63-year-old has acknowledged that a limp end to French qualification attempts could be costly.

Leicester have considered making a move for their former manager, feeling that an emotional reunion could be popular with their fans.

It was moves in the betting market that brought the possibility into the public domain, but the reported confidence behind O'Neill in that sphere waned over the weekend as ex-Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri moved to the top of the market.

The Irish supremo was golfing at The K Club on Friday and is due in Sligo-Leitrim this week as part of the FAI's Festival of Football building up towards Saturday's AGM. He met FAI CEO John Delaney as part of his trip to the north-west.

Meanwhile, Delaney has paid tribute to Irish football stalwart Jack Kelly who passed away over the weekend at the age of 92.

Kelly was an accomplished footballer in his youth and played for Drumcondra and Bohemians as well as serving for the Defence Forces during the Second World War.

He later became secretary of the FAI Youth Committee as well as working in the administration of the AUL, ticket office and League of Ireland. The civil servant also assisted the senior international team and was made an Honorary Life member of the FAI in 2004.

"He was someone who had a strong passion for all of aspects of Irish football," said Delaney.

Read more: FAI hopeful O'Neill will stay despite Leicester link

Read more: FAI confident of keeping Martin O'Neill despite Leicester link

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