FAI set to decide on Stephen Kenny’s Ireland future

Board meeting could present manager with an option of short-term extension

Ireland manager Stephen Kenny saultes the fans after the recent win away to Luxembourg. Photo: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Ireland manager Stephen Kenny saultes the fans after the recent win away to Luxembourg. Photo: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

 

If “football is about opinions,” as Roy Keane stated last week, then Stephen Kenny’s next contract as the Republic of Ireland manager will come down to three key voices on the FAI board.

The 12 person group, of 10 men and two women, gathers on Monday in person for the first time during the pandemic. Several items will be on the agenda but top of the pile has to be a report, compiled by chief executive Jonathan Hill, on Ireland finishing third in the recent World Cup qualification campaign.

One of two options could be presented to Kenny’s agent Eamon McLoughlin; a short term contract extension to take the current management through the six match Nations League tournament that finishes next September or a new deal up to Euro 2024 in Germany.

“It will be solved,” said Packie Bonner, while understandably hesitant to air an opinion before entering Government buildings earlier this month. “It’s not for me, I’m one of 12 board members. The first thing is we’ll do a review of the World Cup.”

Bonner’s opinion, as the only board member to play at the highest levels of the game and as a former technical director of the FAI, must carry more weight than, say, Robert Watt, a high ranking civil servant who chairs the FAI’s audit, risk, compliance and finance committee.

Roy Barrett, the association’s independent chairman, is an open Kenny admirer, as the former Goodbody Stockbroker managing director, supported the 50-year-old immediately after defeat at home to Luxembourg last March.

“I have a lot of confidence and respect in Stephen and his team in what they are trying to achieve. My position hasn’t changed on that just because of one result.”

FAI standards

Keane, like Liam Brady’s repeated call for caution around Kenny, remains adamant that FAI standards should adhere to how previous Ireland managers were treated, when they were assistants to Giovanni Trapattoni and Martin O’Neill.

“I thought winning was part of the package. Maybe I’m wrong,” said Keane at a fundraiser for Kerry hospice. “Football is about opinions. He has the Irish press on his side, especially the Dublin lot, but at the top level it is about getting over the line and winning games.”

Hill’s current negotiating position appears strong, as Kenny is reportedly on €500,000 a year and unlikely to be head hunted, but the players to a man, according to Josh Cullen, want the current management to remain in situ without the looming pressure of contract talks.

Public opinion also appears to be behind what Kenny is trying to achieve, which has the FAI operating in a small window to prove they have become a fundamentally different organisation to what John Delaney presided over from 2004 to 2019.

The Delaney situation rumbles on, with Judge Leonie Reynolds last week stating that he has failed to comply with a court order to provide the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) with certain details for their ongoing investigation.

Judge Reynolds said that a process that commenced two years ago was now “going around in circles”.

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