'He can go and speak to whoever wants' - FAI deal still allows Martin O'Neill to talk with clubs
John Delaney says Martin O'Neill is 100pc committed to Ireland - and that the FAI retain full faith in the Derryman.
But the FAI chief executive has admitted that their manager is still allowed to speak to interested clubs because of an 'understanding.'
Delaney insists that he always felt O'Neill would stay despite the fact that the 65-year-old held talks with Stoke last weekend.
However, he conceded that a new deal may not be enough to stave off interest from Premier League clubs if they make the right offer to O'Neill (right).
"Whether there is a contract or not, clubs have been approaching Martin since he started with us," said Delaney, who claimed the FAI would have received cash if their out-of-contract boss had left.
"And I wouldn't expect that to stop after the contract has been signed. It's not so much a clause as an understanding.
"If an approach is made to him, he can go and speak to whoever wants to approach him and that applies to all football.
"You see it in all strands of football. You see that with players leaving Liverpool or with other national associations.
"If an employee wants to leave an employer, nobody can stop them. All you will do at that given stage is get the compensation that is due to you.
"What I do know about Martin is that he always had a very open and trusting relationship with the FAI. He agreed to stay.
"When he spoke to me about Stoke, the indications he gave to me were that I would have been surprised had he gone to Stoke."
Delaney conceded O'Neill took time to consider his future because of just how badly his team lost the World Cup play-off to Denmark, but said that the FAI had no doubts about their manager's suitability for the job in the aftermath.
"We didn't, no. Because he has done very well for us and he has done a very good job for Irish football. Our position did not change.
"I believe he had a bigger offer fromStoke. He has been very open with me about any approaches.
"That's an honest comment and he's always come back to me and said, 'Do you know what? I want to stay with the Republic of Ireland', and when you analyse everything that's happened, that's what he is doing. He's 100pc committed to Ireland."