'I always felt he would stay' - John Delaney confirms when Martin O'Neill will finally sign new FAI deal
FAI CEO John Delaney says Martin O'Neill will sign his new contract to extend his stay as Ireland manager next week.
But he admitted that the Derryman contemplated leaving in a 'period of reflection' that followed the World Cup drubbing at the hands of Denmark.
O'Neill agreed to stay on in October, but that deal was a verbal agreement - not a written one - which left a void for the manager to freely speak to other clubs.
The FAI chief has claimed that the association would have received compensation from Stoke if the 65-year-old had opted to take that job last weekend, although he refused to go into specifics. "We still would have been due compensation, but that's not something that happened," he said.
He indicated that the FAI board have no issue with O'Neill speaking to other clubs if they made an approach.
"It's not so much a clause, it's an understanding," said Delaney this morning, speaking at the announcement of Aviva extending its naming rights deal at the Aviva Stadium until 2025.
"There have been many approaches to Martin in his time since he has joined us as manager. We have always had a very open relationship with him, a very honest relationship, and if any approaches are made he will inform us. If the manager was to leave compensation would be due to the association."
Delaney attributed the lengthy delay from initial discussions to next Monday's signing to the shock of the 5-1 defeat to the Danes and the questions it raised.
"We agreed in October to offer Martin a new contract and he accepted. Obviously the game in November was a blow. And Martin took some time to consider he would…reflect on whether he was going to renew his contract for another two years. He came in last night and met Michael Cody (FAI Honorary Secretary) and I, we agreed terms, and the contract will be signed prior to the Nations League draw.
"The lesson we have learned is please don't get beaten 5-1 by Denmark again. It would have been great if we'd qualified, I don't think we would have had a period of reflection. I don't think anybody had factored in the defeat which came last November which required a period of reflection from his point of view.
"He wanted to take some time to consider the implications of that night," Delaney continued. "There is a lot of trust, and I've said this many times, between the manager and the association. I always felt he would stay. I think the night of the Denmark game was not the way for Martin O'Neill to finish as Republic of Ireland manager. I think it gets lost a bit just how well we've done in his time.
"Everyone would want a contract to be signed immediately after it has been announced, but in this particular circumstance we agreed when we announced it, just like the last time, that we would leave the contracts settle until after we had finished our campaign. It was an important statement in October that we wanted Martin to stay and he agreed to stay.
"I'll keep saying - November was a blow. It wasn't something that was calculated in Martin's thinking or in Irish football thinking. It was a difficult night. I don't think anybody would criticise anyone for taking time after that to know if you would want to stay for the next two years. And he has done that and he is staying.
"The bottom end of all that has happened since that day is Martin O'Neill will sign a contract next week, we've a Nations League draw on Wednesday and we'll have younger players and a younger squad playing away to Turkey (in March)."
Delaney said that O'Neill will discuss his courtship with Stoke and the other offers he has received when he meets media in Switzerland next week.
The manager's representatives will meet the FAI's lawyers on Monday and iron out the final details to allow O'Neill put pen to paper ahead of Wednesday's UEFA Nations League draw.