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Withdrawal of Denis O'Brien's funding won't hurt the FAI - John Delaney

“We knew when we were renewing the contracts this time around that it wouldn’t be available.”

FAI chief executive John Delaney with Republic of Ireland senior team manager Martin O'Neill.
FAI chief executive John Delaney with Republic of Ireland senior team manager Martin O'Neill.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION OF Ireland chief executive John Delaney has insisted that the loss of financial contributions from businessman Denis O’Brien won’t have a detrimental impact on the FAI.

O’Brien had part-funded the contracts of the senior Republic of Ireland management team since Giovanni Trapattoni took over as boss, assisted by Marco Tardelli, in 2008.

However, Delaney revealed in March that O’Brien’s support ended after Ireland’s qualifying campaign for the 2018 World Cup, which concluded with a play-off defeat to Denmark last November.

Following a long-running saga, it was finally announced in January that current manager Martin O’Neill and his backroom staff — including assistant Roy Keane — have extended their contracts for two more years. O’Neill succeeded Trapattoni in 2013.

“Denis had been very supportive. I think it was €12.5 million that he contributed over a number of years,” Delaney said. “We had planned for it at some stage not to continue. We knew when we were renewing the contracts this time around that it wouldn’t be available.

“All I can say is to simply thank him for his support at a time when it was very important to us. It helped us to raise the level in terms of remuneration and bringing Trapattoni and Tardelli in at the time, and bringing in Martin and Roy. I thank him for what he did but we have to stand on our own two feet, which we’ll be doing now.”

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When asked if the FAI will still be capable of attracting experienced and successful managers in spite of the withdrawal of O’Brien’s funding, Delaney said: “Absolutely. We are now so I don’t see why we wouldn’t be into the future. We have the very best at the moment, in our opinion.”

Delaney also reiterated his confidence in Martin O’Neill’s commitment to the manager’s job. Before penning his new deal with the FAI, the former Celtic and Aston Villa boss held talks with Stoke City over their managerial vacancy prior to Paul Lambert’s appointment in January. Lambert departed Stoke yesterday, shortly after Delaney was speaking in Cork at the launch of the FAI’s 2018 Festival of Football and AGM.

“I never felt that Martin was going to go,” Delaney said. “I said that at the time. Martin has shown a great enthusiasm about his renewal. He’s at the underage matches, a lot of grassroots matches, a lot of League of Ireland matches.

“We expect fully that Martin and Roy will see the contract through and their aim is quite simple: let’s get to the Euros.”

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Paul Dollery

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