Stephen Kenny. INPHO/James Crombie
Nearly there

FAI expect to finalise contract extension for Stephen Kenny by next month

Meanwhile, the FAI CEO says Kenny will find a ‘bloody good coach’ to replace Anthony Barry.

THE FAI ARE expecting to finalise a contract extension for Stephen Kenny and his management team before the friendly international against Belgium on 26 March. 

“The good thing about the overall situation is we know Stephen wants to continue to be the coach of the senior men’s team, we want him to be the coach of the senior men’s team moving forward so we’re just in that stage of any negotiation and this is actually a contract extension to a degree where we’re talking through the parameters of that”, said FAI CEO Jonathan Hill.

“We have him under contract until July 2022, we said we would do this in the right timetable and make sure all of those issues are talked through. We are very comfortable we’ll have an announcement well before the Belgium game.”

The contract will run to incorporate the Euro 2024 qualification campaign though has yet to be finalised, with Kenny himself saying recently that there are “one or two things to sort” before the deal is completed. 

Hill also rejected a suggestion one of the sticking points was in relation to the size of Kenny’s backroom team. 

That backroom team is currently down one member, following Anthony Barry’s decision to leave for a similar role with World Cup-bound Belgium. 

“I think Stephen should actually be congratulated for finding somebody of Anthony’s quality, to be honest”, said Hill.

“He wanted to do the job and I think he did a brilliant job in relation to moving us forward from a coaching perspective. I’d rather you be more glass half full in relation to the Anthony Barry period rather than glass half empty in relation to it. Stephen will find someone to replace him, a bloody good coach. That’s not an issue.”

Meanwhile, Hill and Chairman Roy Barrett insisted the costs associated with bidding and potentially hosting Euro 2028 are “modest”, though Barrett said the FAI would not be disclosing the figures involved. 

“I understood and respect some of the reaction last night”, said Hill, addressing the mixed response to the news among fans who claim this shows the FAI’s priorities are askew. “Those people are obviously very strong fans of the League of Ireland and their desire is to see investment into the League of Ireland and into facilities.

“I would say that they two are not mutually exclusive. In other words, I think that we can bid for – by the way I think that we can successfully bid for Euro 2028 and win it.

“It would then fall into the next strategic period, 2026 to 2030. In relation to the League of Ireland, you have seen what we are saying in relation to it. I absolutely understand that those fans of the League of Ireland are frustrated by years of underinvestment into facilities, for example, and they want to ensure that we are committed to find solutions to this. And we are.

“That is set out here in the [Strategic] document. Do we have a plan that we can put in front of the Government, for example, as a potential stakeholder to support us in realising that tomorrow?

“No, we don’t. Do we have a plan and a vision that we will put in front of the government across 2022? Yes, because that is what we have said in the strategy.

“But the Government will make its own decisions in relation to whether it wants to bid for and host a Euros and be part of that, will make its own decisions as to whether it wants to work with us in getting facilities in the League of Ireland to where we would like them to be.”

Hill said he “did not disagree” with the contention that the preferred Uefa bidder for the 2030 World Cup was Spain/Portugal, while he talked up the chances of the Irish/UK bid’s potential success as Italy have now decided to contest the 2032 Euros instead. He said a team of three people at the FAI will work on the bid, two staff members along with Declan Conroy, a consultant who has worked on a range of FAI projects in the past including the Euro 2020 hosting process and the feasibility study toward the 2030 World Cup. 

All three will initially be paid by the FAI, though Hill was at pains to point out that, should the bid be successful, they would then be paid by Uefa, who take responsibility for many of the tournament running costs. 

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