FAI: We can stand on our own two feet
FAI CEO John Delaney has denied that the decision by benefactor Denis O'Brien to end his part-funding of the Ireland manager's salary was the reason for the delay in Martin O'Neill agreeing a new contract.
And Delaney insists that the association are now "able to stand on our own two feet" when it comes to meeting the salary costs, estimated at €1.3 million a year, for O'Neill's new deal which was signed last month.
Delaney confirmed on Newstalk that a decade of financial support from O'Brien to pay part of the wages of the senior international team boss, worth an overall €10m, would no longer be in place.
"We always knew it was going to come to an end. It was a decade, he's been fantastic, he's a big supporter of the FAI, he's going to be into the future as well in other ways. But I think at this particular juncture, we're strong enough now to stand on our own two feet," Delaney (right) told 'Off The Ball'.
"For the medium term we will be dealing with managerial contracts directly out of our own funds but that doesn't mean than Denis won't help in other ways into the future."
O'Brien had approached the FAI after Steve Staunton's exit in 2007 and offered financial support to bring in what Delaney last night described as "a top-class international manager".
His backing allowed the FAI to increase the salary package from the €400,000 paid to Staunton and hire Giovanni Trapattoni at a reported €2m a year, though Trapattoni did later take a pay cut.
That financial support remained in place when O'Neill succeeded Trapattoni in 2013 and Delaney admitted before O'Neill's first contract extension, prior to Euro 2016, "without his contribution it just wouldn't be possible".
There was a four-month delay between an announcement from the FAI that O'Neill had extended his deal until 2020 and the formal signing of the deal but Delaney maintains that the removal of O'Brien's support was not a factor.
"That had nothing to do with it, Martin had agreed to stay with us and that was always going to be the case," Delaney said last night.
"I knew a while back that this would come to an end, the FAI board knew, we knew before we entered contract negotiations with Martin and Roy that this was the case so we have been able to address our stadium debt.
"Our stadium debt was up around €70m at one stage, it's a lot less now, our interest payments are a lot less. So we are in a stronger position financially to appoint an international team manager at the type of salaries that the market determines."