Irish stars play for €4m bonus
IRELAND'S players are on course for a €4m windfall as a reward for securing Euro 2012 qualification.
Giovanni Trapattoni's men will look for the substantial seven-figure bonus after their exploits in Tallinn on Friday evening.
In 2002, the Irish squad in Japan and Korea took 50pc of the net profit from the World Cup adventure -- a figure in excess of €3m -- that was divided equally among the 22 members of the squad.
That included incentives for qualifying from the group stage and, with substantial funds on offer for progression in next summer's finals, the FAI will aim for a similar package this time around.
Abbotstown chiefs receive €8m from qualification, and there is a further €1m available for a win and €500,000 for a draw when they make it to Poland and Ukraine.
Tomorrow's second leg with Estonia in the Aviva Stadium is a formality after the side's remarkable 4-0 success in the initial clash. Ten years ago, the players brought in Roy Keane's advisor, Michael Kennedy, who also represented several other members of the squad, to hammer out the terms alongside senior players Steve Staunton and Niall Quinn. They thrashed out the deal with then FAI treasurer, John Delaney, who is likely to be part of the negotiations this time as well.
The senior players will have to decide whether to conduct discussions themselves, or bring in outside help to bargain. Prize money for crossing the various hurdles has increased substantially in recent years.
It's a delicate balancing act for the FAI, considering that they badly need the cash injection from qualification, which also triggers bonuses from existing commercial agreements with sponsors.
Two members of staff were let go last Thursday while all eyes were on Tallinn, and other members of the technical department are facing up to pay cuts. Key staff are waiting to find out if they will be retained in the new year.
Servicing the debt from the association's commitment to the Aviva Stadium remains an immediate priority for Abbotstown chiefs.
Yet the spin-off from making the tournament will also impact on contract discussions with manager Giovanni Trapattoni. Half of the Italian's €1.7m salary is paid by businessman Denis O'Brien.
Once Ireland complete their task, Trapattoni will set about extending his contract by a further two years and he will be reluctant to accept another pay cut after his team's feats set us up for a memorable summer in Poland and Ukraine.
He believes his deal expires in April, and he will also be looking to tie down the arrangement for assistant Marco Tardelli and fitness coach Fausto Rossi.